Children in Nature Multicultural Program Scheduled for the Summer

Latino students learned about park wildlife and examined animal pelts in the spring sessions of Pura Vida en Grand Teton NP.

June 7, 2010
In collaboration with Teton Science Schools, Grand Teton National Park will continue a multicultural program designed to connect local Latino students with nature. Two inaugural sessions for the Children in Nature Multicultural Engagement Program— called Pura Vida en Grand Teton National Park—took place in late March and early April. Participants will get an opportunity to explore, and learn about the park and its natural and cultural resources during summer sessions scheduled for June 14-18, August 2-6 and August 16-20.

The Children in Nature Multicultural Engagement Program received support through a target project called America’s Best Idea Grants and acquired funding from a generous matching grant provided by the National Park Foundation (NPF), Grand Teton National Park Foundation, and the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole.

The summer sessions of Pura Vida en Grand Teton National Park will bring together approximately ten middle school, as well as three high school students who will serve as mentors. Prior to each week, youth mentors will meet with Teton Science Schools’ staff to ensure that they learn the skills and get the support needed to mentor younger students.

At the start of each weeklong session, students will watch a short video titled This is America which highlights the Ken Burns documentary film, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. This program will be shown at 10:15 a.m. and is also open to the general public. Students will then spend the remainder of each week exploring Grand Teton, learning about park resources and operations, and becoming acquainted with the many occupations and duties required to run the park. Students will participate in various activities from canoeing and meeting horses used by backcountry patrol rangers, to learning about wildlife and taking a behind the scenes tour of the park administration building and the operational facilities located in the headquarters area. The week will conclude with a picnic celebration for the students and their parents.

Ken Burns’ documentary on national parks served as a catalyst for the Children in Nature Multicultural Engagement Program. The landmark film inspired the NPF to establish an America’s Best Idea Grants program. Through matching grants, the NPF hopes to reach traditionally underserved groups and empower them to create strong, lasting bonds of stewardship with our treasured lands—continuing a tradition of diverse Americans working together to preserve and enhance the legacy of national parks.

Grand Teton’s Pura Vida program was specifically created to reach out to the Latino population in the park’s gateway communities, introduce Latinos to Grand Teton’s recreational opportunities and unique resources, and provide leadership development and mentoring opportunities to middle school and high school students. The spring sessions were instrumental in introducing students and their parents to the many features of Grand Teton and the value of experiencing the park’s wildlife and beauty. Six middle school and nine high school students participated during the March and April sessions.

For those interested in registering for one of the summer programs, please contact Teton Science Schools Registrar Judy Herman at 307.734.5659. For more information on the Children in Nature Multicultural Engagement Program, or other park educational outreach efforts, please contact Susanne McDonald at 307.739.3656.