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Young People Learn What A Difference A Park Makes

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A program with the National Park Foundation is teaching students about climate change by getting them outdoors. The pilot, "Parks Climate Challenge" began four weeks ago, when 19 high schoolers from D.C. and around the country attended environmental training and climate seminars in North Cascades National Park.

Mark Kornman is the senior vice president for the National Park Foundation. He says scientists showed the students before-and-after pictures of the park they were visiting. "Clearly they could see there was a glacier here, and it doesn't look like that today," says Kornman. "That really put the message in them that they could go back and make a difference."

The high schoolers are now expected to be mentors themselves. They'll be in D.C. for three days working with younger children and passing on what they learned. They're expected to do the same when they go back home. "If we start now with these youth, ingrain good practice and the fact that they need to be taking care of our national parks, when kids have an experience in the park, it's about teaching them to give back," says Kornman.

Joshua and Billy are in the same 6th grade class at Cesar Chavez Public Charter School in Prince George's County, Maryland. As Joshua puts it, "We're learning about earth science, and we're learning about reading, geography and...lots of stuff." Billy follows up with a commitment, "We're gonna try as hard as we can to save our planet."

Kornmann says the foundation will be tracking the progress of the pilot and possibly expand it for more students to attend next year.

Stephanie Kaye reports...


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