Flint Hills region unveils educational map

Flint Hill Discovery Center News Release

Contact: Megan Berry, Marketing Coordinator, (785) 587-2729 ext. 213, berrym@cityofmhk.com

Flint Hills region educational map introduced at Governor's Summit 

Manhattan, KS – A new place-based Flint Hills educational map program sponsored and supported by the Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation and the Flint Hills Discovery Center was unveiled Wednesday, September 2, 2015 at the fourth Governor’s Flint Hills Visioning Summit at Camp Wood in Elmdale, KS. The map and the supporting educational curriculum were developed through the efforts of Project Director Emily Hunter Connell, Education Coordinator Annie Wilson, educators Mollie Wold of Chase County Elementary School and Pam Collinge of Eureka Middle School, along with other local teachers and an advisory team of area scientists, historians and authors.

“This unique program is a great opportunity for the Foundation to support the Discovery Center’s regional mission, connecting children, teachers and schools to the rich dimensions of the Flint Hills,” said Bruce Snead, Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation President.

Every school in the Flint Hills will be offered a large museum-quality exhibit including a colored map outlining the Flint Hills, showing the remaining intact prairie with a customized “You Are Here” arrow pointing to the location of that particular school. “We want students living in the Kansas Flint Hills, the last 4 percent of tallgrass prairie left in North America, to feel a special sense of place, pride and identity,” said Wilson.

Attached and alongside the map is a vibrant, full-color art and text panel celebrating the wonder and beauty of the region, designed in three versions for elementary, middle and high school levels. “The Flint Hills map project, once completed including the web blog and subsection web pages on our main web site, is a beginning and not an end to a lifelong appreciation of the unique ecoregion that is the Flint Hills,” said Fred Goss, Director of the Flint Hills Discovery Center. “The endeavors by the map project team, the Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation and the FHDC provide an opportunity to communicate what we know and love about the Flint Hills whether as a resident, tourist, teacher or student.” 

This is a first-of-its-kind program offered in the Flint Hills region. A major dimension of the project will be on the Flint Hills Discovery Center website: in addition to a blog about the project, extensive Flint Hills-centered lesson plans and resources for K-12 instructors will be available to use in teaching required skills within the relevant context of the students’ own Flint Hills region. “What excites me most about this project is the particular focus on individual lesson plans that will allow teachers to truly embrace place-based education and make the Flint Hills an indispensable part of their students’ academic pursuits,” said Stephen Bridenstine, Public Program Coordinator with the Flint Hills Discovery Center. 

Local, place-based activities will be available on native plants, local history, water resources, earth cycles, pasture burning, ecosystems, area culture and folklore, outdoor art, economics of small rural communities and more. These customized Flint Hills lessons can be incorporated into traditional learning areas of science, social studies, math, language arts, fine arts and technology. Many of the activities are project-based and designed to get students outside and connected to their local communities.

The project will launch later this fall with the first installations in Butler County School District #490, and available after that to other districts in the region. The group is seeking support from private donors and foundations to help fund placement in the schools. “This is an opportunity for those with a deep commitment to the Flint Hills and tallgrass prairie to help instill that commitment in future generations,” said Hunter. Those wishing to support the project, or desiring more information, may contact Annie Wilson at five_oaks_ranch@yahoo.com or (620) 273-8301 or V. Marie Martin with the Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation at fhdcfoundation1@gmail.com or (785) 587-2729, ext. 211.

About Flint Hills Discovery Center
The Flint Hills Discovery Center offers a unique tourism and community experience that inspires people to celebrate, explore, and care for the Flint Hills. The Flint Hills Discovery Center is a division of the Parks and Recreation Department of the City of Manhattan. FHDC has been consistently ranked #1 of 30 things to do in Manhattan on TripAdvisor. Visit www.flinthillsdiscovery.org or call (785) 587-2726 for more information about programs or events at the Flint Hills Discovery Center.

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