National Geographic : 1992 Dec
THE PRESIDENT'S REPORT ON THE Education Foundation Pioneering Educators Hit the Trail I am always amazed at how far our best teachers will go to widen their horizons: Take the 17 Wyoming educators who endured choking dust, punishing winds, and freezing nights to sharpen their geography-education skills on a wagon train. Rolling out along a 75-mile stretch of the Oregon Trail (above), the group tried their hand at map ping and kept daily logs of soil types, vegetation, and weather. They also got a feel for this unfor giving terrain, crossed by 350,000 settlers during the mid-1800s. The adventure was sponsored by the Wyoming Geographic Alliance, a group of educators devoted to promoting excellence in geography education. I'm happy to report that since the Society launched the con cept in 1986, 49 states and Puerto Rico have created geographic alliances. "There's a grave for every 200 yards of the Oregon Trail, and it's easy to see why," says Judy Kallal, a Cheyenne high school teacher who made the five-day trek in July. "At night the temperature was 25 degrees. We had to push wagons out of the bogs. The ride was so bumpy it was usually best just to walk. "But 17 teachers went back to class this fall with a new enthusiasm for teaching geography." Another group of 17 Wyoming teachers took an equally challenging four-day raft trip down the winding Snake River. This year U. S. teachers attended 60 institutes sponsored by regional geographic alliances, the busiest summer ever. Across the country they are bringing a new, infectious spirit to their students. Summer in the City: Prime Time for Teachers The wide open spaces aren't the only places geography teachers can be enriched. Right here in Washington, D. C., 67 teachers from 13 states, Puerto Rico, and Canada joined the Soci ety's Summer Geography Institute in June. One day teams took to the streets of Georgetown (below), not ing how buildings have been put to different use over the years. "We were developing observa tional techniques so we could help children learn how to look at the world around them carefully," said Paula Long, who teaches at a Navajo Indian elementary school near Fruitland, New Mexico. "I came bouncing into the class room on the first day of school this year. When I told the students to open their new geography books, they all moaned. But I said, 'You just wait!' Three weeks later they were asking to work on their geog raphy projects in their spare time." *c^^t A THE NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY EDUCATION FOUNDATIONWAS ESTABLISHED TO RAISE AND DISTRIBUTE FUNDS FOR EDUCATIONALAND SCIENTIFICPROGRAMS.