Local Teachers Became National Park Service Rangers in the Summer of 2008
The “Teacher to Ranger to Teacher” (TRT) program began this summer at the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, a unit of the National Park System. Nancy Beduhn of the Luck School District and Benita Rudi of the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe School were the first teachers to participate.
Under the TRT program, selected teachers spend the summer working as park rangers. They perform various duties depending on their interests and the needs of the park, including developing and presenting interpretive programs for the general public, staffing the visitor center desk, developing curriculum-based materials for the park, or taking on special projects.
Then, during the school year, these teacher-rangers bring the parks into the classroom by developing and presenting lesson plans that draw on their summer experience. In April, during National Park Week, teacher-rangers wear their National Park Service (NPS) uniforms to school, discuss their summer as a park ranger, and engage students and other teachers in activities that relate to America’s national parks.
A major goal of the TRT program is to link National Park System units with teachers from Title 1 (30% of students on free or reduced cost lunch) urban and rural school districts. The NPS strives to provide opportunities for all Americans to connect to their national heritage through the national parks. However, these opportunities are lacking for some — often due to a variety of social and economic factors. The TRT program offers a solution.
The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway’s first Teacher-Ranger-Teachers
Nancy Beduhn is a third grade teacher at Luck School and has been teaching there for the past 20 years. She worked with rangers at the Marshland Center, in Pine City, MN. Her most interesting experience was an outing with Robin Maercklein, a research biologist, who was conducting a breeding bird survey. The birds are most active very early in the morning, so Nancy had to be there for the survey at 4:45 a.m. In addition to the early start, Nancy had a truly immersive Riverway experience as the canoe she was paddling tipped over.
Benita Rudi has taught fourth grade at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe School for seven years. She worked at the Namekagon River Visitor Center, in Trego, WI, and had a number of great experiences. One of her favorites was assisting the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in a fish inventory demonstration at Phillipi Landing and mucking in the Namekagon River with the children afterwards. She was inspired by a young man named Henry who brought in his skink named “Stink” and was concerned about where he should release the small creature in regards to his natural habitat.
Both teachers had the opportunity to paddle sections of the Saint Croix and Namekagon rivers to become acquainted with the boat landings, campsites, and the natural beauty of the river. The objective is that these two teachers will become life-long ambassadors for the Riverway and for the National Park System.
Nationally, over 80 teachers participated in the TRT program during the summer of 2008. The program began in 2003 as an effort to connect teachers in Denver with Colorado’s national parks.
Teachers who are interested in becoming a Teacher-Ranger-Teacher or school districts interested in participating in the program should contact Park Ranger Jean Van Tatenhove by calling (320) 629-2148, or e-mail