• Badlands formations against the blue sky; photo by Rikk Flohr


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National Park Service Addresses First Graduates of the Plus50 Program

Graduates of the Plus50 Program with National Park Service employees
Graduates of the Plus50 Program with representatives from the National Park Service
NPS Photo

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News Release Date: March 30, 2009
Contact: Judy Olson, (605) 433-5240

On March 11, 2009, the National Park Service addressed the first graduating class of the Plus50 Program, an educational program offered at Western Dakota Technical Institute designed to teach park ranger skills to students fifty years of age and older. At a ceremony held at Western Dakota Technical Institute in Rapid City, SD, eleven graduates listened to words of inspiration and encouragement from four National Park Service superintendents, including Dr. Paige Baker from Badlands National Park, Gerard Baker from Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Vidal Davila from Wind Cave National Park, and Mark Herberger from Minuteman Missile National Historic Site. Graduates were encouraged to apply for seasonal and volunteer positions with their newly acquired skills.

The Plus50 Program is a collaborative effort between local National Park Service sites and Western Dakota Technical Institute. The National Park Service and Western Dakota Tech planned the curriculum and educational sessions for the program, consisting of classroom and field training at the four participating park sites. Students learned about the fossils, geology, and cultural history of the parks and covered the basics of program presentation and development of interpretive skills. Classes were held once every two weeks, beginning on January 7, with the final class on March 11th. 

Did You Know?

The rich hue of the Yellow Mounds paleosols

The yellow and red layers in the badlands formations are fossilized soils, called paleosols. Fossil root traces, burrows, and animal bones found within the soils provide scientists with evidence of environmental and climatic changes that occurred in the badlands over time.