Geoscience Teachers in Parks

The Geoscience Teachers in Parks (GTIP) program was a collaborative effort between NAGT and the National Park Service to provide professional development for K-12 teachers of geoscience. Elementary, middle school, and high school teachers of geoscience, as well as recent graduates who are prospective geoscience teachers were eligible to take part in this program.


In 1996, geoscientists were invited as interns to national parks across the United States as part of Geoscientists-in-the-Parks (GIP), a program which grants interns the opportunity to collaborate with park staff and conduct in situ research on various aspects of the park to create summaries, inventories and surveys for park staff, and field guides and interpretive talks for park visitors.

In 2006, parks began inviting teachers as well. NAGT expanded upon this program by providing funds to get teachers in Mammoth Cave National Park to learn from and collaborate with park personnel, local university staff, contracted researchers, and park partners. When possible, each "Geoscience-teacher-in-the-park" will be paired with a "Geoscientist-in-the-park." Interns gain experience in field, lab, and classroom. Because this is a relatively recent creation, the program continues to develop. The program moved to a location at Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington state. Interns have worked with National Park staff on water quality, river bed surveys, as well as hazards and threats to park infrastructure.

Internship Details

"This truly brings into perspective what I teach in the classroom about scientific method and how it is used in the various fields of science careers right here in our local area... Being able to converse and interact with researchers and employees left me with a sense of their pride and dedication to the environment and field in which they work." - Debbie Sherfey ('08)
Upon completion of 200 hours of work (at or by mid-July) and submission of a written report, interns receive $1,500 in stipend. Work is in various areas as are the end results produced. Teachers may strengthen their professional networks and enlarge their selection of resources available with which to teach their students. Those interested in furthering their education are provided with up to $500 (in addition to the stipend) to enroll in a college courses, conferences, etc. Interns work alongside park scientists to monitor and determine the effects of climate change within the park. Specifically, interns may:

  • assist with river surveys
  • monitor stream gaging stations
  • assist with debris flow surveys
  • help monitor and survey the Nisqually glacier
  • document geologic/geomorphic events as they occur


2014 Interns

Gayle A. Eisner - Los Gatos High School, Los Gatos, CA

Erol G. Kavountzis - High School of Art and Design, Manhattan, NY


The objective of Geoscience-Teachers-in-the-Parks Internship is to provide teachers with new avenues of teaching. The program has inspired several ongoing activities:

  • Deborah Sherfey ('08) will be conducting off-trail cave tours on September 4th and 5th for her class of 48 students so that they may observe cave developments resulting from Karst features, explore un-developed cave passages, examine fossils, and get a sense of difficulties experienced by the cave's first explorers.
  • Lisa Pack ('08) plans to set up a scavanger hunt around the school building, teaching her students how to use GPS in order to locate the points.
  • "What is a scientist?" lesson plan developed by '07 interns challenges stereotypes and aims to "ignite an interest in science among their students."
  • Many interns volunteer to return to Mammoth Cave National Park. Continued involvement can take whatever form the intern imagines, enabling teachers to assist future interns, present to the community and to audiences at Western Kentucky's Universities, shape the development of the project, and give their students hands-on learning at both the Mammoth Cave National Park and Mammoth Cave International Center for Science and Learning (MCICSL).