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Westwood Middle Teacher Is Also National Park Ranger | Environment

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Westwood Middle Teacher Is Also National Park Ranger
Westwood Middle Teacher Is Also National Park Ranger

Winter Haven’s Westwood Middle did not have to look far to find a National Park Ranger to include as part of its National Park Week Celebration.

National Park Week was April 16 - 24 and Westwood Middle science teacher Cassandra Ehlendt is a national park ranger during the summer.

Cassandra, also Westwood’s 2010-2011 Teacher Of The Year, is in her second year as a National Park Ranger.  She was stationed at Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona in 2010 and she will report this summer to Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska.

As part of her ranger contract, Cassandra was obligated to wear her park ranger uniform last week.  She taught her science classes in her ranger uniform during National Park Week.

Part of her instruction last week included displaying animal skulls native to Florida.  Her students measured skulls, counted teeth,  studied the animals’ eating habits and determined the animals’ place on the food chain.

Westwood Middle did many activities tied into National Park Week. National Park Week was included as part of  math, reading and writing exercises. 

Students also created Web-based National Park products and also watched instructional television regarding National Parks.

In addition to her summer ranger duties of protecting national parks and its visitors, Cassandra leads educational programs for park groups and visitors.  

In 2010 at Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park, she led a Junior Park Ranger program and was a chaperone and mentor in the Youth Conservation Core program.

Her 2010 Arizona experience included field studies in paleontology, archaeology and zoology.  She also communicated last summer with the Hopi Indians, settlers into the area that is now the Petrified National Forest.  The Hopis settled into the area thousands of years ago.

While at Alaska’s Glacier National Park this summer, Cassandra is scheduled to lead education programs for passengers on cruise ships visiting the Alaskan wilderness. Her 2011 Alaskan experience will also include intensive camping training in the wilderness.

Cassandra uses her national park experiences to create lesson plans for her science classes.

Cassandra, also a 2009 nominee for a Presidential Award For Excellence In Science Teaching, has been a teacher for five years, all in the Polk Public Schools.

She holds two bachelor’s degrees from Michigan State University, an earth and space degree in 2004 and an education degree in 2005.

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