Discovering Saguaro National Park

April 22, 2014Field Notes

Prior to receiving a National Park Foundation Park Stewards grant, the majority of the students at Arizona College Prep Academy had never visited Saguaro National Park, a mere 15 minutes from their school’s campus. Overall, the students said that they knew the park existed, but they never found a reason to go there. The Park Stewards program gave them a reason, many reasons in fact, and connected the students to this national treasure in their own backyard. The program also helped the park in many ways including bringing students’ creativity, positive energy, new ideas and enthusiasm into the park.

Three images of children learning in Saguaro National Park

Through curriculum and service learning projects, the Park Stewards Program helps high school teachers and their students build a deeper connection and sense of stewardship for their national parks. For the students at Arizona College Prep Academy, their three year partnership with National Park Foundation and Saguaro National Park has given them the opportunity to use the national parks as their own personal laboratories. They learned how to conduct the annual Saguaro census and helped park rangers collect invaluable data. They monitored wildlife with hidden night cameras and shared that they were so excited to see “packrats, Kangaroo rats, coyotes, deer, Javelinas, bobcats and even a badger,” because you can’t always encounter those animals in the park during the day.

One student said that “I feel that Saguaro National Park has become an actual part of my life,” while another explained that “I guess I’d always been appreciative of national parks, but honestly I’d never taken the time to visit one or knew that there was one not very far from where I live…I’ve actually become engaged with the park instead of thinking about it”.

Want to learn more about this incredible partnership and how the National Park Foundation is helping to connect people to the parks? Watch “Three Years of Stewardship,” a short documentary that tells the powerful story of how students at Arizona College Prep Academy have been positively impacted by engaging with Saguaro National Park. And to find out how you can support programs like this, click here.

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