Scouting for change

Michelle Boltz

National Public Lands Day, which was Sept. 26, included an array of events that took place at the Brown v. Board of Education museum for scouts and their families.

This year’s theme was “Scouting for Change – Change Your World.” There were many stations, both inside and out, that scouts could learn ways to celebrate this special day. The event was open to all Girl Scouts, Brownies, Daisy Scouts, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. Participants earned a Jr. Ranger participation patch, water bottle and tote bag. Each child picked up a Jr. Ranger guide, which they took to each station they visited, to get it signed once they completed a number of activities.

“We’re here to provide a fun and educational day for the scouts to promote the National Parks Day,” said Dave Schaefer, chief of interpretation and education.¬†Scouts had the opportunity to tour the Brown v. Board of Education museum and visit the bookstore to learn about “Leave No Trace,” a program which encourages youth to recycle and discourages littering.

There were activities required in the Jr. Ranger guide for two age groups, 5-8 and 9+. Outside of the Monroe Building, the scouts had an opportunity to either write or draw inside a mural. The theme of the mural was “How would you change your community?”

There were also water rockets, using 20-ounce soda and water bottles, sack races, and relays.Inside of the crafts tent, Joan Wilson, park ranger, educated scouts about how to make their home more environment friendly, and had a choice of three crafts they could make. Bird feeders were made from 2-liter soda bottles or half-gallon milk jugs, bird houses out of liter milk cartons and popsicle sticks, and a national park service arrowhead made of felt.¬†In another tent was a “Ranger Talk,” where the scouts played “Brown v. Board of Education” bingo and won prizes. The ranger talked about the history, and as scouts heard key words, they would mark them on their bingo sheet.

Jeff Hansen, a plant and tree specialist, took the scouts on a nature walk in Cushinberry Park, where they learned how to identify 12 out of 13 different types of trees that grow there.

“I hope to talk to the students about the benefits of trees, and how useful a tree is,” said Hansen, who also leads prairie walks to further educate the community.

Inside the museum, a 10-minute clip was played of an upcoming program, which airs on KTWU at 8pm on Sept. 28. Ken Burns’ “America’s Best Idea,” was filmed in honor of National Parks Day. Out of 300 participants from 20 schools in Kansas, five winners of an essay contest were chosen to participate in touring Kansas’ five national parks. The tour was filmed for the show. The essay topic was based on Langston Hughes’ poem, “I, too, am America.”

Kansas’ five national parks are the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, Fort Larned, Fort Scott, Nicodemus and Tallgrass Prairie.