Our national parks are a fantastic, unique way to connect with the history of our country, in all its beauty and imperfection. The National Park Foundation (NPF)’s work in history and culture helps increase access to places, cultural resources, and stories to help provide a deeper understanding of our parks as our common ground and shared inheritance. By connecting students and youth with our parks and their history through our support of hands-on history projects and programs, NPF is helping students learn about their history and culture and fostering a sense of responsibility in continuing to care for these treasured places.

Highlights & Projects

Girl with clipboard

Christiansted Cultural Ambassadors

NPF supported a three-part program that uses a traditional speech and debate curriculum to speak to the cultural resources at Christiansted National Historic Site. Through experience, writing, and spoken word, students learned to retell – in their own words – the history that they learned at the park, sharing their knowledge with their peers, elders, and the broader community.

Sea oats near water and the Cape Lookout lighthouse

Stewardship on Cape Lookout

Through this project, students from Oracoke and Hakers Island Elementary learned explore what life was like for residents of two historic island villages – Portsmouth and Cape Lookout Villages. The project helped foster a sense of stewardship for the park and allowed students to discover the relevance that the park has in their life and their families’ lives.

A shed in a field at Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park

Exploring Aviation History

NPF supported a project that provided MSA students the opportunity to learn more about their neighborhood and its connection to Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park. Students created a sequence of experiences, called the Wright Path, which included historical information and mini replicas of Wright flyer airplanes. These replicas then helped others learn about the cultural and historical significance of the area. 

Boy taking in a view of the Grand Canyon from the south rim

Educational Videos in the Grand Canyon

NPF funded a group of students’ creation of videos in Grand Canyon National Park, providing hands-on learning for students to learn about the people, places, and things of important to the Grand Canyon’s natural and cultural history. The resulting videos helps future generations understand the park’s resources and inspires stewardship and assists with the park’s efforts around distance learning programs and on social media platforms.

African American child happy and laughing in National Park

Immersive Learning at Nicodemus 

NPF funded a three-day student program that portrayed Nicodemus National Historic Site in a multi-layered context. Alongside park rangers, Nicodemus Historical Society Staff, and living historians, students rotated between five learning stations at each of the five historic structures in the park, learning not only about the history of the town, but also the importance of place in conceptualizing a deeper narrative. 

Ranger and kids

Illinois: Slavery to Freedom 

NPF supported the student program Illinois: Slavery to Freedom, a web-based initiative that uses Abraham Lincoln and Lincoln Home National Historic Site as the touchstone for telling the story of slavery to freedom in Illinois. The program covered a broad range of Illinois’ history: from slavery’s introduction on the frontier in the 1700s to the early civil rights struggles of 1920s Chicago.