River Styx Spring Trail at Mammoth Cave National Park
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Mammoth Cave National Park

From the Winter 2018 Hands on the Land Newsletter

Group expedition at Mammoth Cave
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With over 400 miles of mapped cave passages and no end in sight, Mammoth Cave National Park is known for having the longest cave in the world. Over 100 species of insects can be found in the depths of Mammoth Cave and the underground rivers are home to animals with some very special adaptations.   Thanks to long ago visitors we also have many artifacts inside of Mammoth Cave. Whether it’s a high-buttoned shoe from an 1800’s visitor or a torch used by a Paleo-Indian thousands of years ago, the treasures inside the cave are abundant. The treasures found aboveground are just as amazing. The park has more than 52,000 acres of beautiful land within its boundaries. The biodiversity of the area makes it so special that it is considered an International Biosphere Reserve.

Mammoth Cave After Dark
Environmental Education (EE) rangers at Mammoth Cave National Park love what they do; educating students about the importance of taking care of our environment. In 2017, the EE rangers worked with over 45,000 students. On any given school day the rangers visit local schools and provide hands-on programming to students in more than 25 local schools. Often students from around the country visit Mammoth Cave with their schools for a tour and an above ground ranger led activity that is tailored to the curriculum they are currently learning in school. As the school day closes the rangers put up their hats and head home from their day educating the future stewards of our park system; until this fall!

Mammoth Cave After Dark
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Thanks to a grant from the National Park Foundation we were able to offer a new evening program that brought local students and their guardians on an evening adventure. Over the course of three Friday nights in fall of 2017, more than 130 participants experienced Mammoth Cave After Dark. Area students and their families enjoyed the mystery of the darkness, both above and below ground. Activities included enjoying a hike to the Old Guide’s Cemetery, a cave tour exploring the life and legacy of Stephen Bishop-guide extraordinaire, and discovering the night sky above through telescopes and story-telling. Many of the students had never been to the park before.  Hopefully they will remember this experience and have a new love for the nature that abounds both above and below.

Contact Information
Jennifer Shackelford, ENvironmental Education Coordinator, Mammoth Cave National Park
270-758-2441
jennifer_shackelford@nps.gov

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