The challenge for the National Park Service (NPS) is to provide opportunities for all Americans to connect to their national heritage as embodied by national parks. The Teacher to Ranger to Teacher (TRT) Program focuses on the education community and engages teachers from schools that are not currently being reached with park programs, paying particular attention to areas with large, ethnically diverse populations.
National parks enrich the lives of many in this nation. They provide access to the powerful ideas, values, and meanings associated with the remarkable cultural, natural, and recreational heritage of the United States. However, all Americans have not enjoyed these opportunities to connect to heritage resources to the same extent–often due to a variety of social and economic factors. This program hopes to offer additional opportunities for these populations to connect the resources of their national parks.
Teachers are detailed as park rangers to parks through an Inter-governmental Personnel Act (IPA) between their public school district and the National Park Service. This program links National Park units and teachers from under-served urban and rural school districts. Teachers spend the summer working and often also living in their park. 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.
During the school year teacher-rangers bring the parks into the classroom by developing and presenting curriculum-based lesson plans that draw on their summer’s experience. In April, during National Park Week, Teacher-Rangers will wear their 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.
The Teacher to Ranger to Teacher Program is being piloted in the Intermountain Region of the National Park Service. In FY 2006, 33 IPAs were in place with school districts in Utah, Colorado, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. During the summer of 2006, parks will have 25 teacher-rangers in uniform learning about their national heritage and serving National Park Service visitors.
We would like to thank and acknowledge the initial work of Duane Holmes, Chief of Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Division and Bill Gwaltney, Assistant Regional Director of Workforce Enhancement, Intermountain Region, and Ron Everhart, Special Assistant to Grand Canyon National Park in the development of this program.
For general information contact Linda Lutz-Ryan, 303-969-2638 (Colorado); Leslie DuBey, 409-246-2487 (Texas); or Jacob Fillion, 928-638-7762 (Arizona).