Students from Leake County, Mississippi, delighted in the sights and sounds of the park’s Cypress Swamp during National Park Week.
Their interpreter for the trip was Teacher-Ranger-Teacher Glenetta Duren-Glass, who donned a uniform to lead her students on a guided exploration of the beautiful and biologically diverse Cypress Swamp.
Using a traveling trunk “Swamp Kit” that Glenetta helped to develop, the students explored the swamp. Shrieks of amazement marked the discovery of an alligator basking in the warm April sun.
“It makes it come to life for them when you can actually take them there and let them see things.” said Duren-Glass.
The program “Ticket to Ride” funded by “Connect Trails to Parks”, enabled Glenetta to bring this group of students, as well as two classes of kindergarten and first graders to the park during National Park Week. Duren-Glass was accompanied on one of her trips by supervisory park ranger Sandi Kavanaugh, who assisted in program development.
Combined efforts of the Natchez Trace Parkway interpretive staff and curriculum development and outreach conducted by education coordinator Jane Farmer have led to a 300% increase in interpretive/educational programming in the park over the last three years. The 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway is adjacent to over 20 communities.
Funding from the “Connect Trails to Parks” program has been critical for the development and implementation of curriculum-based educational programming. Glenetta and two other teachers will be working as Teacher- Ranger-Teachers this coming summer, with combined funding from Southeast Region and “Connect Trails to Parks”.