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T3 Alaska Program

T3 Alaska Students Learn about Denali NP Infrastructure, History, and Research

National parks are a cornerstone of land conservation in the United States, and communicating the science behind preservation is a complex and vital task. Park Rangers lead the effort to bridge this gap, focusing on educating the public about the importance of preserving these natural treasures.

Seven students from four high schools in Fairbanks traveled to Denali National Park to learn about park infrastructure, communication, and data collection. Incoming Wrangell School Principal Greg Clark, a senior park ranger and three park ranger interns who were learning to lead student group excursions accompanied them. This trip was made possible through a collaboration between T3 Alaska and the National Park Service.

The group received special permission to stay at the Teklanika Field Camp, located 30 miles beyond the publicly accessible part of the park. This trip emphasized the park’s infrastructure and purpose, history, land use changes, preservation, conservation, and communication strategies. Students were challenged to understand the reasoning behind certain decisions, such as the absence of vending machines and the dark brown signs, which align with the park’s commitment to maintaining wilderness. At the camp, they split into mess crews, ensuring that no food scraps were left behind to prevent wildlife from associating humans with food.

Our students also particpated in the annual rabbit population data collection, a project the park has maintained since 2012. They were assigned a plot, counted the number of rabbit pellets, and then removed them to maintain the sample area’s accuracy. This data helps track rabbit population trends, which fluctuate with the lynx population.

Effective communication between the park and the public is equally important to conservation. The field trip culminated in a reflective assignment where students wrote messages to a student 100 years in the future, explaining their current experiences and envisioning future park management. They shared these letters with the group, encapsulating their learning and aspirations for the park’s future.

More trips are planned for July!

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