GSENM Youth Program
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What’s New for 2009
Interpretation & Environmental Education
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Widening the Net
Over the last few years, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) developed a web-based environmental education high school curriculum program. With the support Grand Staircase-Escalante Partners (GSEP) and Glen Canyon Natural History Association (GCNHA ), the web-site launched in April 2009.Paleontologist Dr. Alan Titus shows Page High School students dinosaur fossils collected on GSENM.

The curriculum is based on national education standards and field tested by dozens of teachers and student groups from surrounding communities and around the country. Lesson topics include: archaeology, ecology, geology, human history, and paleontology.

All curriculum materials are web-based and available for download from www.gsenmschool.org. Sponsored by GCNHA and GSEP. This educational website has also become part of the Hands on the Land national network of web-based field classrooms connecting students, teachers, and parents to their public lands and waterways at www.handsontheland.org. Through the Hands on the Land program, GSENM will be better able to network with educators and land managers in evaluating and improving GSENM’s educational programs.Bug box from the Junior Scientist Backpack allows close inspection of captured insects.

Junior Scientists
Developed by Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) staff, the Junior Scientist Program gives parents and children a fun and educational way to enhance their GSENM visit. Parents may check out and return a backpack to any of the four GSENM visitor centers without charge upon return of backpacks.

Targeting children six through twelve years old, the backpack contents include equipment, supplies, and information on how to perform rudimentary experiments and identify various species or specimen using the scientific method.

Young visitors take advantage of the Junior Ranger Booklets at the Escalante Interagency Center.For those children not able to take advantage of the Discovery Backpacks, a Junior Scientist Booklet is available at visitor centers free of charge. The booklet offers children fun and entertaining activities, highlighting visitor center interpretive exhibits and the scientific process. Children that participate receive a Junior Scientist Badge.

Dinosaurs on the Move
In cooperation with the Utah Museum of Natural History and Kane County Office of Tourism, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) is rotating two portable exhibits designed for temporary display at public venues and rural schools whose students may not have an opportunity to view museum quality exhibits any other way. Free of charge, the exhibits showcase the reconstructed skulls of either a hadrosaur or ceratopsian dinosaur discovered on GSENM. Currently, the first is on loan to the BLM, Utah State Office, touring schools, hospitals, etc. and the other is on display at the John Wesley Powell Museum in Page, AZ.Gryposaurus (hadrosaur) traveling exhibit on display at the Big Water Elementary School in 2007

Two more exhibits are in production featuring GSENM dinosaur discoveries - the recently named horned dinosaur, Diablocer eatoni (81 MYA), and Deinosuchus riograndensis (75 MYA), the first giant crocodile found in Utah. Along with displays, GSENM and other area specialists give presentations about the exhibits contents to enhance students learning and comprehension.

In additoin to these exhibits, the BLM Kanabe Field Office (KFO) sponsored its own traveling exhibit in cooperation with GSENM. The exhibit features the bones of a Colombian mammoth excavated on the KFO in 2001.

Learning from the Land
Working with educators and GSENM personnel, GSEP Education Specialist, Jane Butter coordinates elementary school class spring field trips for area students to GSENM visitor centers.Working with educators and GSENM personnel, GSEP Education Specialist, Jane Butter (above right) coordinates elementary school class spring field trips for area students to GSENM visitor centers.

Upon arrival, students receive curriculum-based environmental education activity guides using each visitor center’s exhibits as teaching tools. Developed by GSENM and founded on national education standards, these guides enhance student learning experiences and help them understand scientific methodology. Guide activities focus on the sciences of archaeology, ecology, geology, history, and paleontology.

Plotting for the Future
GSENM archaeologist Matt Zweifel, Kanab High School science teacher Barbara Warner, and GSEP education specialist Jane Butter work with students to plant native seeds in the Kanab High School greenhouse.As part of our goal to restore natural ecosystems, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) is collaborating with the Kane County School District and Grand Staircase Escalante Partners (GSEP) to take advantage of the under-utilized Kanab High School greenhouse and lab. Towards this end, GSEP coordinate with Kanab High School science teachers and over 35 students, participating as part of their regular studies, to plant native seeds in the greenhouse during the 2009 and 2010 school years.

In the spring and summer of 2010, GSEP will facilitate the hiring and supervision of high school interns to work with GSENM scientists transplanting these native plants into field plots on the Monument. Over the field season, the interns and BLM will monitor the plots to evaluate and document soil moisture content, seed viability, percentage of seed longevity, plant coverage, and overall ecosystem health.

Engaging in this learning exercise will teach students scientific methodology, critical thinking skills, and adaptive management approaches. At the same time, the project allows GSENM to test various reintroduction options at a reduced cost to the agency. The Greenhouse Project is partially funded through a grant from the Take-It-Outside Program and the Enviromental Protection Agency.
Illustration by Larry Felder of a hadrosaur dinosaur species called Gryposaurus
Regional Partnership
In partnership with the National Park Service, US Forest Service, Utah State Parks, BLM Color Country District, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, and Southern Utah University, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) is working to develop a regional college and high school student internship program.

Through the Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative (IIC) program, GSENM is better able to offer regional high school and college students opportunities for student internships, while cost effectively meeting BLM program objectives. SUU supplies the marketing and referral services to the agencies, administers the program, and grants college credit to students who participate. The program promises to be a great benefit to both students and the agencies

In addition to these internships, GSEP also sponsored internships for high school and college students. Coordinating with GSENM, GSEP Education Specialist Jane Butter presented programs and posted information at area schools to recruit students for these and BLM sponsored internships as well.

Last updated: 03-04-2011