Service-Learning Opportunities in State Parks
What is Service-Learning?
The Education Commission of the States, in their report, Learning That Lasts: How Service-Learning Can Become an Integral Part of Schools, States and Communities, defines service-learning as “a teaching and learning approach that integrates community service with academic study to enrich learning, teach civic responsibility and strengthen communities.”
Meaningful Service - Students engage in service-learning programs that are relevant and valuable to both participants and those being served.
Link to Curriculum - Service-learning is an integral part of the learning process, with direct ties to academic studies and content standards.
Reflection - Service-learning activities should provide opportunities for students to process their learning, and evaluate the effectiveness and success of the program.
Diversity - Through service-learning programs, students encounter, and gain appreciation for a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives.
Youth Voice - Students are active partners in service-learning programs, with a voice in planning, implementing, and evaluating service activities.
Partnerships - Service-learning builds partnerships between young people and the broader community that can last beyond the initial service experience.
Progress Monitoring - The progress and achievements of service-learning programs are shared with policymakers, education leaders, and others, to help sustain program support and high quality standards.
Duration and Intensity - Service-learning works best when it is conducted across sufficient periods of time, so as to fulfill project goals and the needs of those being served.
Service-Learning in State Parks
Primary, secondary, and college students participate in service-learning activities that meet important State Park needs and issues. Students develop their service activities in collaboration with teachers, community partners, and park staff. Service-learning activities have a clear connection to the
Service-Learning in State Parks
Outlined below are some of the creative and rewarding service-learning opportunities available with California State Parks.
Life in the 1850s
The Life in the 1850s program is a service-learning partnership between
(Information about the Life in the 1850s program provided by Debbie Chakarun, State Park Interpreter I)
The Baldwin Hills Greenhouse Internship/Restoration Leadership Programs
Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, Kenneth Hahn SRA
Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook is a 58 acre ecological “island” in urban Los Angeles. Although crippled by past grading activities, and invasive plants, the park is transforming back to a native habitat. The Baldwin Hills Greenhouse Internship and Restoration Leadership Programs allow local high school students the opportunity to participate in the park’s restoration efforts. These programs represent service-learning partnerships between California State Parks, Los Angeles Audubon Society and its funding partners, and Dorsey High School. The programs align with both EEI curriculum components and California State content standards for science, mathematics, and English-language arts. They also allow students to explore careers associated with the CTE Industry Sectors in Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Education. Students begin their training in the summer. Throughout the school year students assist staff by conducting much needed scientific research on native and invasive plants, and wildlife. They also aid in restoration of the area’s Coastal Sage Scrub habitat, and mentor elementary students and other volunteers during restoration events. Students have an active voice in all aspects of the program including developing self-directed projects such as making paper out of invasive species, producing informational pamphlets on pollinators of the Baldwin Hills, and constructing nests out of man-made materials to aid in restoring the park’s cactus wren population. Their time as Greenhouse Interns and Restoration Leaders leave students with a deeper understanding of the natural environment, and an appreciation for their own service to the park and the community.
(Information about the programs at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook provided by Kristen Perry, State Park Interpreter I, and Stacey Vigallon,
Shasta Miners / Stellar Living History Docents
Shasta State Historic Park partners with two local schools to provide service-learning opportunities that familiarize students with the park, and highlight early
(Information about Shasta Miners/Stellar Living History Docents programs provided by Lori Martin, Supervising Ranger)
California State Parks offers educators and service organizations a unique opportunity to establish service-learning projects. Because the state park system is decentralized, interested groups should contact their local park(s) directly. Local park phone numbers and addresses may be found through the Find a Park feature of the California State Parks website.