Junior Ranger Program

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junior-ranger-programThis year is the 100th anniversary of the national parks.  There is also a really great program that started last year where all fourth graders can visit national parks and public lands for free.  We somehow lucked out on this as our oldest is technically a fourth grader this year!  It has been great so far on our adventure to have the opportunity to visit so many of these special places.  Another great program they have is the Junior Ranger Program.  This is a program that I feel really gets the kids excited to learn more about our protected lands.  As a homeschooling mother I am always happy to expand on our education in a fun way.junior-ranger-swearing
When making the decision to go on the road our children’s education was a major factor in the overall plan.  Since we were already homeschooling there weren’t any worries about taking them out of school to consider.  Our thought was that learning the state capitol’s by visiting each one beats finding them on a map or reading about them in a book any day.  So when we discovered this awesome Junior Ranger Program it was great.  Our kids can get hands on experience learning about the places we are visiting in so many ways.  This program consists of the children each receiving a book (even the youngest) with lots of questions and activities for them to complete all relating to the types of plants, animals, land, and things they can do to help protect these things within the park.  They are required to complete a certain amount of pages, which varies from park to park, and then return it to a park ranger.  Since it is part of our curriculum I encouraged them to go above and beyond what is required of them, and they always do!  Upon completion of the book a ranger checks their answers, asks them some questions, to make sure they learned a few things, and then awards them a badge while they are sworn in as an official Junior Ranger.  It is a great, fun program that we all enjoy participating in.
I consider this program to be our nature studies for science.  To me it is so much more interesting and relatable for them to be doing these things hands on (in some of the most beautiful places in the country) than sitting at home looking at pictures or reading about them in books.  We plan to visit as many of the national parks as we can and I am hopeful that they junior-ranger-badgescontinue to be interested in this program at everyone of them.  It is important to motivate the next generation to keep these places special and I think that the Every Fourth Grader in a Park program is an excellent way to get started with this endeavor.

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