In the spring of 2016, I visited elementary schools in Maine and California to present slideshows about America’s national parks. This coincided with Every Kid In A Park, a new government initiative that gives free national park passes to every 4th grader in the United States.
My goal was to inspire kids to better understand and appreciate our national parks. In a world full of digital distractions, many children are losing touch with the natural world.
I love technology, and I think it can be a force for good. (You are, after all, reading this on my website!) But too much technology can have some serious side effects, including physical inactivity, higher levels of stress, and Nature Deficit Disorder.
Today’s students are tomorrow’s voters. If the current generation loses interest in the outdoors, who will protect our natural areas in the years to come?
So I hit the road to spread the word about America’s national parks. After the slideshows, I gave away free copies of my guidebooks. The response was overwhelming:
What educators are saying
“James Kaiser was extremely engaging to our young audience and made the history of national parks completely relevant to the students. His presentation was inspiring and motivational for young writers! He held the students’ attention and inspired us all to go outside and save the parks!”
—Jennifer Gabourny, Principal, Cipriani Elementary School
“When James Kaiser came to speak to my Creative Writing class, he was a warm and poised presence. He did an admirable job of tailoring his presentation to a high school audience, and he was very receptive to their questions. My students were definitely inspired by his story!”
—Shana Genre, English Teacher, Deering High School
“Our students loved your presentation and the gift of your books. We would love to have you come back again and visit with us.”
—Tina Mikkelsen, Community Coordinator, Hall School
“James brought the majesty of our National Parks right into the classroom … Children (and adults) were given a whole new vista into Yosemite, which is virtually in our backyard”
Bret Loring, Principal, Michelson Elementary School
“James provides a dynamic and engaging presentation where students are able to go on a virtual adventure of the National Parks. Students learned new and exciting information which made them ecstatic about visiting national parks.”
Jen Jasper, Assistant Principal, Blackford Elementary School
San Jose, California
What kids are saying
“I want to thank you so so much for giving us the Acadia books! Actually that night after you came, I went home and asked if we could take a trip to Acadia. My parents said yes! I am so excited!”
—Mariah, 4th grade student, Guy E. Rowe School
“Thank you so much for coming to Fairmount School and giving us an awesome presentation. I enjoyed so much stuff about it, and most of the stuff I didn’t know.”
—Amira, 4th grade student, Fairmount School
“I’m taking extra good care of the Acadia book you gave me. It’s a really good book to read! I never knew the glaciers made the mountains and hills smooth and not sharp and rocky.”
—Annaliese, 4th grade student, Guy E. Rowe School
To date I’ve donated over 2,000 guidebooks — and I’m just getting started.
Want me to speak at your local elementary school?
Send an email to [email protected]
Want me to speak at your college or university?
I also offer engaging, photo-filled presentations about national parks geared towards college students. Email [email protected] for more info.
NBC Portland: Maine Author Donates Guidebooks to Fourth Graders
Video from a national park presentation I gave at the Jesup Library in Bar Harbor, Maine. It’s geared towards adults, but contains parts of the 4th grade slideshow.