Friends of the Smokies recently received grants for environmental education programs in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) from the Arconic Foundation and the Richard Haiman National Parks Foundation.
The Arconic Foundation awarded a $25,000 grant to fund STEM initiatives for educating inner city and underserved students. The grant helps provide opportunities for teachers to enhance their STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education at schools in the inner city of Knoxville and other underserved schools in Knox, Blount and Sevier Counties whose students have never visited the park.
The STEM initiative includes two workshops for 60 teachers who can then use park education materials back in their classrooms or bring their students to the park for field trips during the 2017-18 school year. Four additional “Teachers in Parks” from inner city or underserved schools will participate this summer in hands-on scientific studies and assist with summertime ranger education programs, while also gaining information about how park curriculum assists with inquiry-based learning and STEM education. The grant also includes bus stipends for 40 field trips with up to 60 students each.
The Richard Haiman National Parks Foundation awarded $21,500 in grants to the park’s nonprofit partner, with $1,500 helping to supply backcountry privies, and $20,000 for the Parks As Classrooms program. The Richard Haiman National Parks foundation has contributed more than $200,000 towards environmental education through Parks As Classrooms since 1999.
“Parks as Classrooms reinforces the learning concepts that are the curriculum goals for the children,” said Nigel Fields, Chief of Resource Education at GSMNP. “It’s real school, but it’s science the way you always hoped it could be- hands-on, using the 5 senses…well, maybe even the 6th sense…the sense of wonder. Through the support of the Haiman and Arconic Foundations, we are achieving these goals for both students and teachers.”
“We are so thankful for the support of the Arconic Foundation and the Richard Haiman National Parks Foundation. Grants like these make all the difference for students to pursue further education and careers in STEM fields, especially those who have never enjoyed the Great Smoky Mountains in their own backyards,” said Sarah Weeks, director of development at Friends of the Smokies. “Our organization is proud to fund outstanding programs like this.”
Arconic is the recently renamed component of Alcoa, which focuses on engineering products for the aerospace & automotive industries. The goal of Arconic Foundation is to advance STEM education and training worldwide, with a special emphasis on engaging and creating access for underrepresented and underserved groups.
The Richard Haiman National Parks Foundation was created in 1997 and has generously funded projects in Great Smoky Mountains National Park as well as Yosemite, Yellowstone, Acadia and Shenandoah.