Gateway, the National Park situated along the edge of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and New Jersey, provides a challenge for urban students to explore. Students familiar with the streets and buildings of the city are often clueless about the natural areas of forests and dunes just a short mile or two away. To help urban students learn about these natural resources, the Teacher-Ranger-Teacher Program set up by National Park Service selects educators to serve as park rangers for a summer.
During the school year which follows, these teachers share their experiences, with their students, relating stories of climbing lighthouses, exploring gun battery tunnels, and slogging through marshes in search of rare frogs. Participants in the program, and their classes often become regular users of the park. Each teacher ranger produces park-focused lesson plans which can be used at Gateway, and in other classroom presentations. During National Park Week in April the teacher/ rangers relate their experiences at Gateway and with the National Park Service to students in their whole school to help them connect with these special areas of natural history at their doorstep.