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Contact: Marcus Key, 219-395-1582
INDIANA DUNES NATIONAL LAKESHORE: After hours of cutting non-native plants, collecting pounds of trash from the beach, and completing parts of a new Great Lakes Junior Ranger book at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, 200 elementary age children were awarded Great Lakes Junior Ranger badges on Junior Ranger Day, Saturday April 28.
For many of the children this was their first visit to a national park and first time seeing one of the Great Lakes.
"The biggest reward for me was seeing the expressions on the kids' faces when they saw Lake Michigan, "said Marcus Key, Park Ranger at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. "I stood along the rail at West Beach and watched their faces light up when they saw waves crashing on the shore."
The majority of the children are participants in an after school program of the Steuben County Literacy Coalition, near Angola Indiana. They are studying the Great Lakes.
"It was great to see all the planning come together, multiple people, from multiple groups working together for a great learning experience," expressed Ted Winterfeld, Stewardship Coordinator for Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and coordinator of the event.
The service learning field trip concluded a week of public events at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore celebrating National Park Week and Junior Ranger Day.
The same badge the children were awarded can be earned by completing the Great Lakes Junior Ranger Activity Book available at most Great Lake National Parks or on-line at http://www.nps.gov/cuva/forkids/beajuniorranger.htm. The book focuses on resource issues surrounding the Great Lakes and is a compliment to other Junior Ranger activities.
"This book is designed to teach children the importance of Great Lakes ecosystems and the science used to study them," said Carmen Chapin, Great Lakes Exotic Plant Management Team Coordinator. "When we learn about the threats to the lakes, such as invasive species or mercury pollution, we also learn how to better protect these important resources."
The Great Lakes Junior Ranger activity book and badge are part of a large educational effort by the National Park Service and Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. There are 397 national parks, 15 are protecting places around the Great Lakes.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is part of the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 397 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.