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Contact: Alanna Sobel, 202-354-6486
Contact: Kim Swift, 219-395-1812
THANKS TO UNIVERSITY OF PHOENIX AND SUBARU OF AMERICA, NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION PROGRAM WILL ENGAGE TEACHERS AND YOUTH IN SERVICE-LEARNING PROJECTS IN AMERICA’S NATIONAL PARKS
Porter, Indiana – Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is one of 28 national parks to receive a Park Stewards grant from the National Park Foundation, (NPF) the official charity of America’s national parks. Over the last year, the national lakeshore has been working with LaPorte High School teacher Rob Walker to implement an enrichment and stewardship program for high school students. Walker worked last summer at the national lakeshore developing activities for his students and learning about the ecology of the area. Now he is bringing his students from LaPorte High School’s new Agriculture and Natural Resources class to the park as part of the school’s commitment to expand opportunities for students in college and career pathways. Students will attend an in-depth, overnight visit to the national lakeshore’s Dunes Learning Center on April 27-28.
Now in its sixth year, this NPF Park Stewards program gives high school teachers and students the opportunity to explore the relevance of national parks to their lives, and enables them to become civically engaged stewards of their national parks through year-long service-learning projects.
Walker and his LaPorte High School students have been studying various park issues and are preparing for their visit to the national lakeshore later this month. They will assist with oak savanna restoration work, learn about the endangered Karner blue Butterfly and enjoy camping experiences like an evening campfire at the Dunes Learning Center.
In addition to the school activities, this grant will provide funding for two LaPorte high school students to work at the national lakeshore for six weeks during the summer. The students will receive a small stipend for their work and will learn about national park service career opportunities as they work alongside park staff on a variety of projects. Tucker King and Angel Hodge were selected from a pool of applicants and begin work at the dunes in mid-June.
This grant has provided a tremendous boost for the park’s high school programming. “Creating a strong partnership with LaPorte High School and teacher Rob Walker has allowed us to create authentic learning activities for students which can be used with other schools in the region,” according to the park’s Education Programs Manager Kim Swift.
The University of Phoenix is now serving in its third year as the program’s official educational sponsor. The University is committed to opening opportunities for education and workplace readiness, and supporting sustainable solutions for environmental health. Its support of the Park Stewards program helps both teachers and students build a deeper connection to and sense of stewardship for America’s national parks, while offering students the chance to explore new career horizons.
“University of Phoenix is proud to once again support the National Park Foundation in helping build future generations of national park enthusiasts and supporters,” said Pat Gottfried, vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility for Apollo Education Group, parent company of University of Phoenix. “The University has long supported environmental stewardship in our operations, offered sustainability-related degree programs and engaged in environmental philanthropy across the nation. We welcome the opportunity to continue to reinforce this commitment through our support of the National Park Foundation and the teachers and students it impacts.”
Since 2009, the Park Stewards program has made it possible for 110 high school teachers to work in parks over their summer break, creating engaging curriculum to teach to their students in the coming school year. During their time in the parks, the teachers and park staff also develop service-learning projects for students to take part in during the school year. The projects tie to state academic standards and make meaningful impacts in the national parks. Examples of projects include monitoring water quality, creating digital history apps, hosting a BioBlitz, and designing art sculptures.
In addition, two students from each grantee school team will be selected for summer internships that will help support and grow their interest in national parks and the National Park Service.
The National Park Foundation also wishes to thank Subaru of America for their generous support of the Park Stewards program. A listing of the Park Stewards grantees and their project descriptions can be found on the National Park Foundation website. For more information on the National Park Foundation and how to support and protect America’s national parks, please visit www.nationalparks.org.
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ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 407 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.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION
The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service. Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help PROTECT more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts, CONNECT all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history, and INSPIRE the next generation of park stewards. Find out more and become a part of the national park community at www.nationalparks.org.