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Originally appears in the Summer 2017 issue

We all have a vision of what engaged learning looks like and it is no secret that, as educators, we strive to keep our students engaged in their learning. Perhaps that vision involves kids rushing to complete activities because they can’t contain their excitement, or parents voluntarily sharing details about learning experiences with other parents and encouraging them to bring their own children. It includes facilitators working one-on-one with learners to foster individualized learning. For the staff and volunteers at Sitka National Historical Park, this vision was realized through a new program in the fall of 2016.

As environmental educators, we strive for our students to show growth in skills, acquire new knowledge, and develop emotional connections to elements within their surroundings. Further, it doesn’t hurt to have fun along the way. The Eco-Detective Event Series, developed in the spirit of experiential learning for youth at Sitka National Historical Park, aims to meet these goals of growth and knowledge development while simultaneously enjoying an experience in nature.

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Jennifer Yurky is a recent graduate of Ohio University with master’s degrees in Environmental Science and Outdoor Recreation and Education. She worked to develop the Eco-Detectives Event Series as part of her master’s thesis. Ryan Carpenter, a Park Ranger at Sitka National Historical Park in Alaska, was involved with the development of Eco-Detectives and facilitated the program. Bruce Martin, Natalie Kruse and Andy Szolosi are all three are professors at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. All five collaborated on this article in order to share the Eco-Detectives project with fellow educators.