This program has now concluded. Learn more about our current work in supporting Youth Engagement & Education in parks here.

The Park Stewards program, sponsored by the University of Phoenix, gave high school teachers and students the opportunity to explore the relevance of national parks to their lives, and enabled them to become civically engaged stewards of their national parks through year-long service-learning projects. These service-learning activities allowed students to apply academic knowledge and critical thinking skills (in addition to physical skills as appropriate) to address genuine needs of the park. The resulting curriculum engaged their students and meets all local, state, and national education standards.

Highlights & Projects

Peirce Mill in Rock Creek Park

19th Century Agriculture in Rock Creek

An NPF Park Stewards grant enabled high school students to write and direct a 10-minute film on the 19th century agricultural production and nutritional habits at the Peirce Plantation, now preserved in Rock Creek Park. Student actors dramatized the lives and patterns of owners and workers, including people who were enslaved, at the plantation in the mid-19th century. The completed film is now shown at the mill's visitor center to visiting elementary school children and others.

A prairie dog guarding its hole in badlands national park

Student Science in the Badlands

As part of the Park Stewards program, local high school students contributed to an ongoing scientific database, designed by their teacher. Students were able to input and manipulate data, including map-GIS layers, photos, species lists, wildlife populations, home ranges, and vegetation areas year after year.

Sculpture depicting one person handing a book to another

Service-Learning at Shiloh and Corinth

Partnering with a local high school, Shiloh Military Park and Corinth Battlefield developed curriculum to enhance student understanding of the historic resources in the park and how the preservation of these assets relates to their lives. Student participants compelted a historic landscape project to repair a walking trail, removing old trail material, tree roots, and other debris. Students also installed necessary water bars for erosion prevention, a footbridge, and mulch.

Researcher collecting a butterfly specimen

BioBlitz at San Juan Island

Through a year-long program, high school students learned about San Juan Island National Historial Park's flora and fauna. Island elders shared their knowledge about the ecosystem and the students helped teach the elders about new tech gadgets, such as GIS that would help monitor the island's species. Together the elders and students helped the park host a 24-hour BioBlitz for the entire island community.

Ship docked at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

Underwater Data Collection at Fisherman's Wharf

Local high school students applied classroom learning to real-life scientific research by assiting with the collection of largely untapped, mission-critical underwater data. During multiple visits to San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, students from Galileo Academy of Science and Technology programmed and operated an underwater, remotely-operated vehicle and submersible inspection-grade camera to study the park's submerged resources.

George Rogers Clark National Historic Park

Digitally Telling George Rogers Clark's Story

Students and teachers helped George Rogers Clark National Historical Park tell its story of the capture of Fort Sackville in February 1779 in a digital format. Participants also helped the park develop curriculum-based programs to offer teachers outside the immediate area of the park, including pre- and post-visit materials.

Hands-on learning

Saguaro Stewards

Youth from Arizona College Prep Academy assisted the park's Natural Resource Managers with monitoring wildlife and the health of the park's signature saguaro cactus. The program expanded to include the entire school and an addiitonal leader teacher. Students were offered a variety of educational, service-learning, and recreational opportunities.

Girls Looking at Tree

Knife River Indian Villages Prairie Ecology

Students completed a unit on prairie ecology, including programs about Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site's efforts around prairie restoration and invasive species, as well as ecology and wetlands. Student learning was assessed in an ongoing basis through dialogue and reflection, as well as assignments and participation.

Two people walking in the distance on the beach at indiana dunes

Teacher Resources on Indiana Dunes

Connecting students from the park's local rural community, this project enabled a lead teacher to receive in-depth training about the interpretation and resource management in Indiana Dunes National Park's restoration efforts. The teacher shared their learnings with other teachers in the state and region through workshops offered throughout the year, via the web and in-person.

Kids exploring the waters edge

Mercury at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller

Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park engaged students in a scientific discovery and mentorship program to help them plan for their futures. Students explored real-world issues through interdisciplinary learning, talking to scientists and other experts to create their own research plan for mercury monitoring in the park. Students then shared their findings publicly through poster presentations, blogs, and more.