The entire Horace Mann Elementary School student body, nearly 400 children, took the pledge to become Junior Rangers in celebration of National Park Week in Saint Paul, MN. The school assembly program included a visit from “Freddie the Flathead Catfish,” mascot and “spokesfish” for the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MISS). Speaking through his ranger interpreter, Freddie encouraged students to explore the park and care for the river. Park Superintendent Paul Labovitz, with Freddie at his side, led students in the Junior Ranger pledge.
Teacher-Ranger-Teacher Rick Olson set up the assembly program in collaboration with MISS Education Specialist Lyndon Torstenson. The swearing-in of new Junior Rangers culminated the special National Park Week programming at the school. At the assembly Olson highlighted his work as a Teacher-Ranger at MISS last summer and explained the NPS arrowhead, while Torstenson tested student’s knowledge of parks and MISS wildlife. As science teacher at the school, Olson works with every student. During the week the children studied other national parks through online Web-Ranger activities, and learned about the nature and science of the Mississippi River. “If all students knew what these students know about national parks, we could rest assured about the future of the NPS,” said Superintendent Labovitz after the program.
Each summer MISS works with 3-4 Teacher-Ranger-Teachers (TRT’s) from area schools who become park ambassadors within their school district. The professional development opportunity strengthens school relationships with the park and increases school-based programs that engage students with park resources throughout the school year. Each TRT does special national park and MISS-related programming in their schools during National Park Week.
The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area extends 72 miles through Minneapolis and St. Paul to the Mississippi’s confluence with the Saint Croix River. The National Park Service works with partners and local governments to care for the river’s nationally significant resources – including natural areas, historic sites and recreational assets.