In addition to content knowledge, curriculum tools and networking, Boston Harbor Islands education staff are working with the Teacher-Ranger-Teacher (TRT) program to provide access to the powerful ideas, values, and meanings ascribed to the remarkable cultural, natural, and recreational heritage of the park. TRT focuses on the education community and engages teachers from Title I schools that are not currently being reached with park programs, paying particular attention to areas with large, ethnically diverse populations.
Concepts Learned and Incorporated into the Classroom
Teacher-rangers that work in parks with significant natural resources increase their understanding of scientific research and how that research is applied and interpreted. Through this experience they also acquire an appreciation of complex issues that face parks on a daily basis. For example, teacher-rangers learn how:
- adjacent lands that may or may not have compatible resource management philosophies affect park project outcomes;
- to apply National Park Service mission ethics to resource management decisions;
- universities who are assisting with research add new dimensions and insights to park project work;
- training and managing staffs that are administering a park project can be complex and challenging.
Teacher-rangers that work in parks with significant cultural and historic resources learn about the complexities of interpreting and researching human history and current ethnographic matters in parks today. For example, teacher-rangers learn how:
- parks research and interpret American Indian heritage and regularly consult with tribes who have a government-to-government relationship with the park and its resources;
- a variety of resources can be used for research, and how these resources will be used to tell complex stories from a variety of viewpoints;
- a variety of partners contribute to projects being researched in the parks and how this may complicate, but also enrich, the research.
Program Benefits to Urban School Children
This program provides the opportunity for students to connect to the nation’s heritage through the experiences of their teacher-rangers. A variety of resource issues, based on the teacher’s summer experience, are discussed in class. These might include historic preservation, interpretation, fire, exotic species, endangered species, and air and water issues. �� Students learn about opportunities for summer and permanent employment with the National Park Service. �� Students share the enthusiasm of a teacher who has had the opportunity to be a National Park Ranger.
Benefits for Parks
Parks benefit from the teacher’s expertise in exchange for the park providing teachers with the cost of housing, uniforms, on-site training, and $300 per week for eight to ten weeks. Through teacher-rangers, park staffs have direct contact with school systems.
TRT helps parks achieve workforce efficiencies that are at the heart of Core Operations Analysis, such as: facilitating recruitment of highly qualified individuals at less than normal cost and meeting park-identified needs by filling short term positions in a variety of program areas.
Parks and park employees learn from teacher experience about how to relate to school groups that are composed of diverse populations (including ethnic and urban youth). They learn in ways that are not otherwise available and which could transform the ways those staffs relate to and communicate with diverse populations.
Teacher-rangers become life-long ambassadors for the parks in which they have worked, and for the National Park System.
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