Shaking Hands with Forest Park

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Published on: Apr. 2, 2004

Last revision: Nov. 16, 2010

teachers. Active and unusual games are an important part of the program, and teachers often get wet or dirty as they explore the outdoors.

The three days of the "The River Runs Through It" portion of the Academy are the program's core. They provide teachers with knowledge, hands-on experiences, and interdisciplinary lessons in three different areas within the park. Teachers are then ready to build their own Forest Park lessons.

The teachers then divide into small groups according to the locations in the park they most want to explore with their students. Each group creates a series of lessons that include more than one subject, meets the school's curriculum needs and carries a message of stewardship for the park.

On Day 8, the last day of the Academy, Voyagers teachers hear each group's lesson ideas. Most are highly creative. For example, last summer, the team of Julie Burnette, Jesse Todd, Rebecca Dodd and Amy Marvel created "Harmony in Kennedy." During this program, the students will connect nature with musical themes in Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" during several seasonal field trips to Kennedy Forest. Their students will create sound maps, word maps, poetry and artwork using only natural materials gathered using ethical techniques.

Teachers benefit both from developing their own lesson plans and by hearing the details of lesson plans developed by others. By the end of the program, they have an arsenal of tools for helping students learn more about the outdoors at Forest Park.

Many teachers were amazed at the activities they ended up enjoying. They saw changes in themselves and realized the potential Forest Park has to change their students, too.

"At first, I didn't like the idea of looking at bugs," said Doris Adams with a laugh, "but then I became fascinated by seeing changes in the wetland ecosystem. I enjoyed it so much!"

"I feel so blessed that I found this Academy," Angela Breitenstein said. "I'm going to leave a 'Gone Fishing' sign on my classroom door with the (Missouri Assessment Program) standards that relate to fishing right next to it."

"I'm inspired," said Julie Burnette, displaying the enthusiasm she hopes her students will have when they come to Forest Park. "Let's take this back to our schools and spread it like wildfire."

For more information about this summer's Forest Park Voyagers Teachers' Academy, visit <> or call Liz Lyons at (314) 301-1500, ext. 2243. triangle

Academy Helpers

Many groups and organizations are partners in The Forest Park Voyagers Teacher's Academy. In addition several trusts and private enterprises have lent their support.

Voyager Partners

  • Forest Park Forever
  • Missouri Botanical Garden
  • Missouri Department of Conservation
  • Missouri Historical Society
  • St. Louis Art Museum
  • St. Louis Science Center
  • St. Louis Zoo
  • St. Louis Department of Parks, Recreation & Forestry

Voyager Sponsors

The Employees Community Fund of

  • Boeing St. Louis
  • Citigroup
  • Clifford Willard Gaylord Foundation
  • Edward Chase Garvey Memorial Foundation
  • John R. Goodall Foundation
  • Anne Lehmann Charitable Trust

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