Nature Notes

Vol. IX August 15, 1931 No. 8

Educational Value of Mt. Rainier Nat'l Park

Real education has its inception in human interest. Mount Rainier National Park is one of Nature's great Laboratories in which each individual is brought into actual contact with reality and judgements are formed as a part of actual experience.

Great expressions of Nature have more than a mere recreational value, they have a great inspitational value as well. This inspirational value of our mountains has been recognized by man for ages. "I will lift up mine eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my strength," is as true today as in the days of the Psalmist David. John C. Merriam says, "To me our National Parks are not merely places in which to rest and exercise and learn. They are regions where one looks through the veil to meet the realities of Nature and of the unfathomable power behind it."

Education is not merely the accumulation of facts, it is life itself. No longer are people content merely to view these great national features, but they are filled with the spirit of investigation. Nature is said to be an open book, but sight alone is not enough. With sight must go understanding, or, shall we say, more properly, real vision comes with understanding. With increase in understanding comes increased enjoyment.

Mount Rainier is a great recreational center if we define recreation as a worthy use of leisure time. The worthy use of time outside business hours is becoming a national problem. Machine methods have made shorter hours and more vacation time possible to an increasingly larger number. The automobile has made it possible for thousands of people to visit our Parks who would never have had the opportunity without it.

While recreation was for years the only factor recognized in National Park management, education is now becoming the dominant factor. In 1920 the first Nature Guide service was tried out in Yosemite National Park, and met with such favor that a Park Naturalist service has been established in all parks.

In the field which touches natural features of the earth, our National Parks offer unsurpassed opportunities as centers of education and inspiration. Mount Rainier National Park stands on the brink of a great road building program. Great as this material program is the field of education is even greater. Who can fathom the far-reaching influence of the messages carried by those sublime examples of the handiwork of the Creator?

Our National Parks teach and keep alive in us patriotic impulses. It was to keep these choice unspoiled regions of Nature from being commercialized and to preserve them unchanged that they were set aside to be administered by our Government. There are few individuals, who, looking upon these awe-inspiring natural wonders, and, knowing that they individually have an interest of ownership in them, can help but feel the patriotic urge.

Our National Parks are great centers of Democracy. Here North, South, East, and West camp side by side and ex-change views with each other. This exchange, under the patriotic urge of common ownership in a land so fair must enhance the feeling of Democracy in every one.

-- Charles Landis,

cones and needles

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