Ken Burns Classroom

Ask a Ranger

Ken Burns Film: The National Parks

Collections: Emergence of Modern America (1890-1930)

Subject: Science

Grade Level: 6-10

Run Time: 1 class period

When I was a child in Detroit, national parks really didn’t exist. There were no family trips to national parks. So it really didn’t exist for me, and for my friends. We didn’t sit around talking about, boy, can’t wait to get to the Grand Canyon, you know… But always there was this desire to see Yellowstone. There was a desire to see the Grand Canyon, to see Yosemite. There was a desire to fully invest my physical self and my spiritual self in America.

—Park Ranger Shelton Johnson

In THE NATIONAL PARKS: AMERICA’S BEST IDEA, Shelton Johnson tells his story of getting off a bus at Yellowstone National Park and never looking back. Many park rangers have amazing stories to tell about what led them to the national parks and why they chose the career they did. Have students contact an area national park and arrange to interview a ranger, interpreter or other staff member about their personal park experiences. Students can create video presentations for the class or type up their interview as a feature for the school newspaper or Web site.

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