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Local Teacher Helps Turn Grand Canyon National Park into Area's Best Classroom

Lori_Rommel
Lori Rommel hiking in the Grand Canyon.
Photo courtesy of Lori Rommel

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News Release Date: June 24, 2010
Contact: Shannan Marcak, 928-638-7958

Grand Canyon, AZ (June 11, 2010) – As area students begin their summer vacations, Lori Rommel, a teacher at Grand Canyon High School in Grand Canyon National Park, is donning a National Park Service uniform to participate in immersive learning experiences that she will turn into service-based educational programs for students in the fall. The program is part of the National Park Foundation’s Park Stewards Program, which helps build a deeper connection and sense of stewardship for national parks among high school students.

“This program will allow high school students to become personally engaged in their local national park while enhancing the park’s oral history library,” said SuZan Pearce, Environmental Education Specialist at Grand Canyon National Park. “Due to time and budget constraints, many oral histories of importance to the national park go unrecorded and are sometimes lost when people pass away or move on. This summer, we will be working with Lori Rommel to develop an oral history curriculum. In the fall, her high school students will design and implement oral interviews with people who have been an important part of Grand Canyon’s story, ultimately turning these over to Grand Canyon National Park. At least three other Arizona high schools will be selected to participate in this program next spring. The histories these students collect will be useful to historians and will allow park interpretive rangers to share these meaningful stories with the public.”

“The Park Stewards Program creates a ripple effect as each teacher becomes a conduit for bringing classrooms of students to their national parks year after year,” said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “This program is an introduction for many students to their national parks, and the service learning projects they participate in can spark a connection to the parks that will last a lifetime.”

Teachers begin their summer sessions by familiarizing themselves with a local national park, its resources, and staff responsibilities. Together, teachers and staff work to develop service learning activities for their high school students that advance the park’s mission, yet are broad enough to be applicable to local, state, and national education standards. As with Grand Canyon’s oral history project, these service learning activities allow students to apply academic knowledge, critical thinking skills and physical skills to addressing the needs of national parks and their visitors.

For a complete listing of national parks that are participating in the 2010 Park Stewards Program, please visit http://nationalparks.org/npf-at-work/our-programs/stewards/.

The Park Stewards Program is made possible with generous support from Bank of America and other private donors to the National Park Foundation.

ABOUT GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK
Grand Canyon National Park encompasses 277 miles of the world-famous Grand Canyon of the Colorado River from the southern terminus of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area to the eastern boundary of Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The canyon itself is almost a mile deep and is 18 miles across at its widest point. Here the forces of erosion have exposed an immense variety of formations which illustrate vast periods of geological history. Human history is also preserved here, with archeological sites and artifacts revealing continuous occupation of the canyon for at least 10,000 years. The park contains six vegetation formations which contribute to an amazing diversity of life. Today, the park receives approximately 4.5 million visitors each year, making it the second most visited national park and the most visited destination park in the nation. To learn more, please visit the park’s web site at www.nps.gov/grca.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION
America’s national parks protect almost 84 million acres of the world’s most treasured landscapes, ecosystems and historical sites. Chartered by Congress, the National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks. We work hand in hand with the National Park Service to help connect you and all Americans to the parks, and to make sure that they are preserved for the generations who will follow. Join us – This is Your Land. www.nationalparks.org

FACEBOOK http://www.facebook.com/nationalpark

TWITTER http://twitter.com/goparks

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