Recognizing the key role teachers play in helping future generations appreciate the value of national parks, the Yellowstone Association Board of Directors has approved the use of operating funds to provide full-tuition scholarships for Institute Field Seminars for approximately 50 teachers in 2013.
Teachers made up a significant portion of the seminar audience into the late 1980s and ’90s, said YA Director of Education Jenny Golding. “Then funding for their participation in programs like ours sharply declined. We still feel that field seminars are a great resource for teachers, so we’ve implemented the new scholarship program to make it possible for them to attend again.”
The in-depth information shared in Institute Field Seminars can be incorporated into most subject areas. It’s especially beneficial for teachers of biology, geology, history, and art. The Association will provide letters of completion for teachers pursuing continuing education credit, and also plans to offer college credit in the future.
In 2011, the National Park Service issued a Call to Action that asked park partner organizations to work alongside NPS staff to ensure that parks are relevant for future generations. “People have to care about parks in order to protect them,” Golding said. “Unfortunately, younger generations are increasingly disconnected from not only parks but from the natural world. This could become a crisis for the natural places we care about. Providing teacher scholarships is an incredibly efficient use of funds to help connect young people to parks. A teacher can reach hundreds, even thousands, of students in his or her career. That multiplier effect is important. The Yellowstone Association is serious about educating youth, which means we’re serious about educating teachers.”