America's largest classroom: What we learn from our National Parks

Houseal, Ana K
From the Golden Gate National Parks, Grand Tetons, and the Great Smokies to Monticello, Civil War battlefields, and Japanese internment camps, students of all ages are learning first-hand, in motivating and authentic ways, about climate change, U. S. history, biodiversity, and cultural diversity. Virtual field trips to the Grand Canyon, Alaska’s Katmai National Park, and more than 40 NPS units became even more popular during the Covid crisis. These immersive, place-based experiences also lead learners to reconsider their own goals and abilities. Since educating the whole person should include experiential learning in local communities, states, and regions, our National Park System sites represent our nation’s most significant landscapes, ecosystems, and historical/cultural sites. This talk will explore ideas about life-long learning within our National Park System and share case studies and research findings from a book released at the beginning of the pandemic, America’s Largest Classroom: What We Learn from Our National Parks (U. California Press, 2020). As exemplified in this volume, these places extend beyond the well-known parks, thus “America’s Best Idea” needs our continued vision about what it helps us all know and begin to understand about our country and ourselves.
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University of Wyoming Libraries
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National Parks,AMK Ranch
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