Idaho's State Parks and partner locations serve as the perfect outdoor classroom for anyone wanting to expand their understanding of geology, flora, fauna and human history. The workshops are designed for teachers and open to all.
Each year, several parks will host Teacher Workshops designed to connect participants to park resources and educational opportunities. These are typically two-day courses that are designed for teachers getting their continuing education credits. However, they are open to anyone who is interested! The workshops are structured to help educators incorporate the workshop subjects into their lesson plans. The workshops also promote the use of living classrooms (also known as outdoor classrooms).
Education in a beautiful setting -- what more could you want out of a classroom?
What are living classrooms?
Living classrooms help bring the natural world closer to the academic environment. It has been proven that utilizing living classrooms helps increase both student attention and retention. Being outside in the natural environment and interacting with nature helps increase kinesthetic learning and spatial awareness.
"The findings are stunning: environment-based education produces student gains in social studies, science, language arts, and math; improves standardized test scores and grade point averages; and develops skills in problem-solving critical thinking, and decision making." -Richard Louv
What sort of subjects would benefit from the workshops?
All kinds! English, science, social studies, math, history... there are a long-list of extended benefits for all varieties of subjects. The two teacher workshops offered this summer are at two spectacular locations for learning about Idaho history and the natural world. Old Mission State Park was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961, and put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. The Park preserves the Mission of the Sacred Heart, or Cataldo Mission. Built 1850–1853, Mission of the Sacred Heart is the oldest standing building in Idaho. City of Rocks National Reserve and nearby Castle Rocks State Park tell the story of migrants moving through the California Trail and offer thousands of acres of natural area to explore.
Ranger, Terri Bryant, speaking to students at Ponderosa State Park
These workshops offer a variety of benefits to teachers in addition to the continuing education credit offered:
- Learn more about the natural and cultural history of the parks.
- Discover school group programs the park has to offer for your class.
- Learn ways to make your park field trip an extension of your classroom curriculum.
- Explore ways teachers can lead their own program for students in the park.
- Acquire tips on how to structure learning in an outdoor environment.
- Learn ways to help students develop observation skills in nature.
- Help develop student’s abilities to “think like scientists."
A course at Massacre Rocks State Park
Current 2019 Workshops
The Cultural and Natural History of Coeur d’Alene’s Old Mission | June 24 - June 27
Click here for more information, scheduling, and registration.
The Cataldo Mission embodies both history and beauty
Workshop description: In 1848, Father Peter DeSmet began building the Old Mission, completed in 1853. It became a “station of hospitality and supplies” for those passing through the area. The Coeur d’Alene Reservaion was established in 1877. Father Joseph Cataldo made it his headquarters for ministering to the Coeur d’Alene people. The Park was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961 and became a state historic park under the care of IDPR through a long-term lease with the Catholic Diocese of Boise. In 1976, IDPR obtained a lease to a parcel of land that surrounds the Old Mission site. On August 15, 2001, the diocese conveyed ownership of the Old Mission site to the Coeur d’Alene Tribe.
Coeur d'Alene's Old Mission State Park has tremendous significance to Idaho's history. The main story, unique to this Park, is about a coming together of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe and Jesuit Missionaries. They built the Mission and a self-sustaining village with minimal tools and supplies. This course will cover the historic and cultural contributions to the building of the Pacific Northwest and to Idaho.
Participants will learn about and understand the historic significance of the Mission of the Sacred Heart as Idaho’s oldest standing building, and its role as a center of activity in the history of Idaho and the Pacific Northwest to present day as part of the cultural heritage park known as Coeur d’Alene’s Old Mission State Park. The workshop will center on the history of the site with a focus on the coming together of two distinct cultures and religions, a discussion of historic architecture and the preservation of historic structures and sites, with emphasis on the sites’ relationship to the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. Activities and discussions will center on day-to-day life, language, social diversity, games, traditional food, and cultural heritage. The workshop will also spotlight the local flora, wildlife, and geology of the area.
City Of Rocks National Reserve Natural History Workshop | July 8 - July 9
Click here for more information, scheduling, and registration.
Workshop description: City of Rocks National Reserve and nearby Castle Rocks State Park encompass 16,000 acres of dramatic scenery, featuring granite spires and monoliths. Summer is the perfect time to immerse oneself in the natural history of the “City.” Its ecology is more akin to Basin and Range than Idaho’s Snake River Plain. The state’s largest pinyon pine woodland is here on the slopes of the Albion Mountains, as well as many plant and wildlife species found nowhere else in Idaho. Instructors will lead participants on two days of field study focused on geology that reaches back 2.5 billion years, mile‐high botany, and riparian forest ornithology. The instruction is less intimidating than the terrain. Be prepared to walk 2‐3 miles each day, in elevations over 7,500 feet, but also plan to experience the Reserve’s best natural areas. Participants will also come away with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the nearly one quarter of a million emigrants that journeyed through the City of Rocks between 1843 and 1882.