Rita Hennessy, Assistant Park Manager, Appalachian National Scenic Trail, National Park Service –
Rita has 22 years with the NPS. She has worked in Zion, Bryce Canyon, Rock Creek and the National Mall, and has been with the Appalachian National Scenic Trail for 14 years. Rita strongly supports the volunteer tradition of the Trail. In an effort to sustain this tradition, she launched the Trail To Every Classroom (TTEC) program in 2006 as the capstone to her graduate studies in Community Change and Civic Leadership through Antioch McGregor. TTEC, a professional development program for K-12 teachers focusing on place-based service-learning, promotes a conservation ethic, civic participation, and healthy lifestyles by using the Appalachian Trail as a valued local educational resource. To date, TTEC has trained 275 teachers and engaged more than 15,000 students. And these numbers are not the final outcome. From the program’s inception, Rita placed a strong emphasis on program evaluation. The real outcomes of TTEC are that teachers have documented improved teaching practices and in turn have positively impacted student learning. The most recent series of student surveys documents that students engaged in curricular activities developed as a result of TTEC report higher levels of civic responsibility, volunteerism and environmental stewardship. This is the outcome that we foresee as sustaining the volunteer tradition of the Appalachian Trail. Rita has also shared this program model with other national trails, and assisted the Iditarod National Historic Trail in launching their first TTEC program in 2010. The growth of the program continues with alumni opportunities in hike leadership and Wilderness First Aid and Rita’s most recent idea – the creation of Appalachian Trail Master Naturalists.
You need to be a member of C&NN Connect to add comments!