Jewel Cave Explores and Discovers Cave Education

An elementary school student tries on a park ranger hat.
Park Rangers reach out to local schools each year.  Classroom activities engage children with meaningful experiences that promote the mission of the National Park Service.

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News Release Date: August 29, 2014

Contact: Bradley Block, 605-673-8330

Custer, SD - Jewel Cave National Monument is teaming up with the University of Sioux Falls (USF) with an educational workshop for teachers entitled “Explore and Discover Cave Education.” The workshop derives from Project Underground, a national curriculum for educators of kindergarten through high school academic levels. The workshop is slated for September 26 – 28, with sessions starting Friday evening and ending late morning on Sunday. An academic credit hour is available for interested participants.

Project Underground, highlighting cave and karst educational programs, has been used in National Parks across the nation, including Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico, Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, and Timpanogos Cave National Monument in Utah. Carol Zokaites, National Coordinator of Project Underground, states “It is wonderful to add Jewel Cave National Monument to our growing list of train the trainer courses. Being the third longest cave in the world, with a rich story relating to geology and science, I am confident that participating teachers will enjoy the hands-on lesson plans and dynamic on-site activities.”

The workshop offers ten sessions that mix science with adventure. Participating teachers and educators will be expected to take part in learning about bats, belly-crawl mapping, and a host of other lively sessions. The learned activities create an awareness of cave and karst areas, as well as a better understanding of human impact on natural resources. Complementing South Dakota content standards through general science and mathematics, participants can take their skills back to their classrooms and enhance current lesson plans.

Chief of Interpretation Bradley Block comments, “Educational programming continues to expand at Jewel Cave, and we are excited to host a teacher’s workshop in order to engage even more audiences. Not only does this workshop complement the Call to Action Plan of the National Park Service, by providing educator training, it also creates an educational bond between the monument and local school systems.” Educators, teachers, naturalists, and outdoor learning instructors will have the opportunity for both in-class sessions and field activities. At the conclusion of the workshop, teachers receive an extensive curriculum guide for future use.

Workshop activities and sessions begin on Friday night, September 26 at 7:00 p.m. Field activities take place all day on Saturday. The workshop concludes on Sunday morning, September 28 around
11:00 a.m. There is a $75.00 registration fee for the workshop, which covers program materials, supplies, and some meals. An additional fee of $45.00 covers the academic credit through USF.

For more information or to register for the workshop, interested participants are encouraged to call the visitor center at 605-673-8300. Online information is also available at by clicking on the For Teachers link.

Last updated: June 29, 2017

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