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INDIANA DUNES NATIONAL LAKESHORE: Two environmental science classes from North Manchester High School will be guinea pigs for new education activities at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore's Dunes Learning Center on December 5-6.
Their teacher, Jabin Burnworth, is eager to test out some new activities he developed with park staff. Burnworth spent eight weeks last summer working alongside educators, researchers, and resource managers as part of the Park Stewards project at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The project was funded through a grant program of the private, non-profit National Park Foundation. The grant provided a stipend for a high school teacher to work with park education staff, as well as, funds to support new high school programming at the park.
Testing the new program on actual students is the next step. Among the elements to be tested include a web-based mapping tool called Fieldscope, activities designed to complement ongoing park research, and examining real world issues like climate change. While the two days at the Dunes Learning Center will be filled with real world scientific application, staff is also planning some fun social elements for the students such as singing around a campfire and enjoying some smores.
The national lakeshore was one of 21 parks to receive a Park Stewards grant in 2011. "The Park Stewards program gives teachers and students the opportunity to participate in meaningful and educational, hands-on experiences in their national parks," said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation. "By encouraging high school students to develop strong connections with the outdoors, we are helping to ensure that our parks will continue to be protected and preserved by future generations of park stewards."
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore's Dunes Learning Center is located on 700 Howe Road in Porter, Indiana. For more information on this and other education programs at the national lakeshore, contact the park's education manager, Kim Swift, at 219-395-1812.