Parks as Portals to Learning

Parks as Portals to Learning Field Workshop (PPL)

Rocky Mountain National Park

This interdisciplinary field workshop was developed by Dr. Ben Bobowski and Dr. Ben Baldwin of the National Park Service and Rocky Mountain National Park. This workshop is a major curricular and institutional innovation that addresses a real-world, practical problem: the disconnection between academic teaching and research on the one hand, and professional natural resource management in the public land agencies on the other. Parks as Portals to Learning will use environmental history as a foundation for students, professors, and agency professionals to analyze contemporary resource issues such as climate change, air quality, and elk-vegetation dynamics. The pilot launched in 2013, with field workshops held each summer since. For one week each August, a group of students and faculty from a range of disciplines stay on the ground in Rocky Mountain National Park. They engage with park natural and cultural resource managers, learn about management issues within the park, and propose ways to use environmental history to address these issues and propose creative strategies for learning about and preserving park resources.

The Parks as Portals to Learning field workshop aims to bring together students, faculty, and resource managers in one of the United States’ most iconic national parks to develop processes that will 1) better prepare participants for the real-world challenges of professional positions in public lands management, 2) encourage collaboration, mutual respect, and sharing of knowledge among academics, practitioners, and students, and 3) break down barriers that inhibit collaborative interdisciplinary efforts to address the park’s contemporary sustainability issues, such as climate change, air quality, and elk-vegetation dynamics.

The long term vision of PPL is to use the knowledge gained from the program in Rocky Mountain National Park to develop an educational program that accomplishes the goals outlined above while being easily replicable, so that other sites in the NPS as well as students from diverse backgrounds and at different stages of their academic careers can benefit.

2013 Parks as Portals to Learning

August 18-23, 2013

Study Area: “Change, Restoration, and Management in Moraine Park, Rocky Mountain National Park”

CSU Instructors: Mark Fiege, Ruth Alexander, Jared Orsi, Adrian Howkins and Jason Sibold (Associate Professor of Anthropology)
Rocky Mountain National Park Instructors: Ben Bobowski and Ben Baldwin
Support Staff: Maren Bzdek (Public Lands History Center); Emily Yost, Nicole Wardo and Michelle Braxton (National Park Service)

CSU Students: Kim Bauer (M.A. History), Vidal Carrillo (B.S. Biology), Erica Patterson (B.S. Fish, Wildlife, & Conservation Biology), Joel Scherer (M.A. History), Nicholas Shannon (B.S. Natural Resource Management), Kaitlyn Simcox (M.A. Anthropology), Justin Smith (B.A. History)

Management Brief Study Group 1: “Moraine Park Riparian Erosion” (Erica Patterson, Joel Scherer, Justin Smith)

Management Brief Study Group 2: “Moraine Park Ecological and Historical Interpretation” (Kim Bauer, Nicholas Shannon, Kaitlyn Simcox, Vidal Carrillo)

 

2014 Parks as Portals to Learning

August 17-22, 2014

Study Area: “Change, Restoration, and Management in Moraine Park, Rocky Mountain National Park”

CSU Instructors: Mark Fiege, Ruth Alexander, Jared Orsi, Katie Hindmarch-Watson, Sarah Payne, Janet Ore
CSU Guest Instructors: Jim Barborak (Co-Director, Center for Protected Area Management & Training, Warner College of Natural Resources), Kristen Kaczynski (Post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship)
Rocky Mountain National Park Staff: Ben Baldwin, Scott Esser, Holly Nickel, Tisa Djahangiri
Support Staff, Public Lands History Center, CSU: Alison Foster, PPL Team Leader and Maren Bzdek, PLHC Program Manager

CSU Students: Kim Bauer (M.A. History), Ellen Blankers (M.A. History), Jordan Cooper (M.A. History), Saleh Dadjouy (M.S. Conservation Leadership), Emma Fajardo (M.S. Conservation Leadership), Nic Gunvaldson (M.A. History), Gabriel Lewis (B.A. History), Tessa Moening (M.A. History), Julie Sabattis (M.A. Conservation Leadership), Laura Wingate (B.F.A. Art)

Management Brief Study Group 1: “Presenting the Past..as a Gift to the Future” (Kim Bauer, Jordan Cooper, Emma Fajardo)

Management Brief Study Group 2: “Casting a Wide Net: Fisheries Management in Moraine Park” (Ellen Blankers, Nic Gunvaldson, Julie Sabattis)

Management Brief Study Group 3: “Bringing the Beaver Back to Moraine Park” (Laura Wingate, Tessa Moening, Gabriel Lewis)

Press Document: “Public Lands History Center Uses Parks as Portals to Learning” by Kate Hawthorne Jeracki, @ColoradoStateU, The Coloradoan, June 2014, page 3.

 

2015 Parks as Portals to Learning

August 9-11, 2015

Study Area: “Change, Restoration, and Management in Moraine Park, Rocky Mountain National Park”

CSU Instructors: Mark Fiege, Adrian Howkins, Jared Orsi
CSU Guest Instructors: Jim Barborak (Co-Director, Center for Protected Area Management & Training, Warner College of Natural Resources)
Rocky Mountain National Park Staff: Ben Baldwin, Scott Esser, Therese Johnson
Support Staff: Maren Bzdek, PLHC Program Manager

CSU Students: Mark Boxell (M.A. History), Stephen Chignell (M.S. Watershed Science), Sean Fallon (M.A. History), Poppie Gullet (M.A. History), Katelyn Weber (M.A. History), Will Wright (M.A. History)

Management Brief: “Moraine Park Digital Environmental History” — creation of an interactive map (Esri Story Map)

 

2016 Parks as Portals to Learning

August 8-12, 2016

Study Area: Horseshoe Park

Public Lands History Center Leadership Team: Mark Fiege, Ruth Alexander, Adrian Howkins

Guest Instructors: Nicole Archambeau, Patrick McCray, Ann Little

Participants: Evelin Preciado, Mary Franke, Poppie Gullett, Sam Iven, Maggie Moss Jones, Sean Fallon

Deliverables: “The Culture of Nature: Managing Horseshoe Park” ArcGIS Story Map; Repeat photography of Horseshoe Park.

 

2017 Parks as Portals to Learning

August 6-11, 2019

Study Area: Moraine Park

Public Lands History Center Leadership Team: Jared Orsi, Sarah Payne, Ruth Alexander, Brenda Todd

Guest Instructors and Staff: Mark Fiege (University of Montana), Adrian Howkins (University of Bristol), Kayla Steele (Berthoud High School), Jacquelyn Rendall (Berthoud High School), Emily Moore (CSU, Art History), Julie Peterson-Guzman (CSU Anthropology and Archaeology), Tonya Malik (CSU Development), Shannon Dale (CSU Development)

Participants: Katie Oldberg, Elizabeth Henke, Hannah Ashley, Kim Disney, Ben Lee, Patrick Hoehne, Dillon Maxwell

Deliverables: ArcGIS Story Map of historic and environmental changes in Moraine Park; Repeat photography project in Moraine Park.

 

2018 Parks as Portals to Learning

August 6-10, 2018

Study Area: Repeat Photography of Rocky Mountain National Park Visitor Centers

Public Lands History Center Leadership Team: Jared Orsi, Ariel Schnee, Dillon Maxwell

Guest Instructors: Ruth Alexander (CSU), Adam Thomas (CSU), Mike Childers (CSU), Jessica Jackson (CSU), Kurt Kneirim (Rocky Mountain High School).

Participants: Kylee Cole, Alexandria Kearney, Amy Hootman, Kimberly Selinske, Andrew Olson, Joe Sarr, Carly Boerrigter, Daniel Gilbert.

Management Brief: “Case Study: Alpine Visitor Center” and presentation to park staff: “Visitors Centered: Addressing Expanding Visitation in Rocky Mountain National Park through Repeat Photography,” and Long Exposures: Rephotography and Parks as Portals to Learning.

  • PPL 2018 Group Shot: Top row left to right: Dillon Maxwell, Jared Orsi, Kurt Knierim, Ariel Schnee. Second row: Kylee Cole, Alexandria Kearney. Third row: Amy Hootman, Kimberly Selinske, Andrew Olson. Bottom row: Joe Sarr, Carly Boerrigter, Daniel Gilbert.
  • Participants Carly Boerrigter, Daniel Gilbert, and Kylee Cole at PPL 2018 rephotographing the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center in Rocky Mountain National Park.
  • Participants Andrew Olson, Kimberly Selinske, and Alexandria Kearney with leadership member Ariel Schnee at the Alpine Visitor Center.

 

2019 Parks as Portals to Learning

August 4-10, 2019

Study Area: Trail Ridge Road

Public Lands History Center Leadership Team: Mike Childers, Ariel Schnee, Andy Olson

Guest Instructors: Ruth Alexander (CSU), Kurt Kneirim (Rocky Mountain High School), Kayla Steele (Berthoud High School)

Participants: Isabella Condon (Berthoud High School), Ella Rupp (Berthoud High School), Isabel Wilson (Rocky Mountain High School), Elle Lenderts (Rocky Mountain High School), Hailey Doucette (CSU), Gentrice Petrie (CSU), Alex Miller (CSU), Jake Swisher (CSU), Leslie Moore (CSU), Bekah Schields (CSU), Tristan Purdy (CSU), Craig Somers (CSU)

Deliverables: “Going Somewhere on the Trail to Nowhere: A Spatial History of Trail Ridge Road, 1970-Present” ArcGIS Story Map, GIS Survey Data of 124 Pull-offs on Trail Ridge Road, GIS Map of Trail Ridge Road Survey Sites, Oral history with NPS engineer, Joe Arnold, and NPS Landscape Architect, Larry Gamble, Trail Ridge Road Historic Resource Database.

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