-Connecting Students Around the World-
More than 5 million people visited Zion National Park last season, affirming it as one of the nation’s busiest parks. While everyone should have an opportunity to visit the park in person, for more than 8,000 students, Zion came to them.
In 2017, Zion National Park piloted a virtual distance learning program initially designed to focus on young students as part of the National Park Service’s “Every Fourth Grader in the Park Program.” The lessons in that program have developed to include students of all ages, even reaching into adult education programs and assisted living initiatives. The program has also gone global streaming rangers worldwide into three different countries.
For some elementary-aged students, the distance learning programs may be their first opportunity to meet a ranger, and for others, it might be an expansion of their park experience. When young children are involved, it’s essential to keep them interested.
Some lessons are set up like fun gameshows where students compete while rangers teach about history, biology, and the importance of wilderness conservation.
The program and lesson plans are offered online to educators through the park and the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration. With your support, park educators hope to continue expanding the program to focus on higher grades like middle and high school. Staff will work with the park’s resource divisions to create new programs connected directly to ongoing park science such as night sky monitoring, paleontology, and harmful algae bloom monitoring in the park. Seeing curriculum connected directly with ongoing and new park science shows students the relevancy of what they’re learning in classrooms and introduces them to internships and career paths within public land management.
Ensuring the future of Zion’s management means providing the next generation with an appreciation for the outdoor world. With your gift to this project Zion rangers will be standing by on digital screens able to share Zion with students in the U.S. and around the world.