The Spring issue of Parks Stewardship Forum included an article entitled “The Legacy of Learning at Whiskeytown Environmental School: Fieldnotes from an Interview with Ellen Petrick” by Dr. Ana Houseal (Associate Professor, University of Wyoming) and Ellen Petrick (Supervisory Park Ranger, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area) on the value of youth programs in National Parks. This article is one of a larger compilation of studies reflecting the journal’s ongoing theme “America’s Largest Classroom, Expanding the Role of Education in Our Parks.” In the article, Ellen Petrick describes the wide range of educational opportunities for both students and teachers that National Parks provide with the specific example of Whiskeytown Environmental School, “a nature-based, immersive, science-focused environmental education program”that takes place over five days of living with their peers and cabin counselors at the school. The authors describe the program as “very student-centered and based on the Next Generation Science Standards, so there is an emphasis on facilitating scientific discourse and letting kids practice.”
Besides training in scientific observation and analysis, students also learn relationship-building and personal growth. The overnight experience enables participants to “live together 24 hours a day, uninterrupted by external distractions and pressures…[this] enhances learning, disrupts old routines and patterns, and makes room for new ones. It opens students’ eyes to new ways of being and experiencing the world.” To read the complete article (Vol. 36, No2), please visit the Park Stewardship Forum .