ASMSA recognized for exemplary volunteer service to Hot Springs National Park

3 months ago

Hot Springs National Park (HSNP) and the National Park Service (NPS) announced the selection of the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts (ASMSA) as the Midwest Region winner of the George and Helen Hartzog Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service by a Youth Group. The NPS Volunteers-in-Parks (VIP) Program expects to announce national winners during National Park Week (April 17-21); ASMSA’s regional selection automatically qualifies them for this consideration.

George B. Hartzog, the seventh Director of the NPS (1964-1972), obtained Congressional authorization that created the national VIP program. Later, the Hartzogs made a generous donation to the National Park Foundation to support awards that honor the efforts of exceptional volunteers, groups, and park volunteer programs.

Throughout 2016, ASMSA students contributed more than 1,100 hours of volunteer service to HSNP in critical needs areas like natural and cultural resource management research and field work. The Research in the Park (RiP) program and work service program students helped monitor water quality through sampling and data collection, assisted with the park archival insect collection, supported visitor trail use and promoted safe navigation, and assisted with a national NPS Dragonfly Mercury study. RiP students also completed science fair research projects within the national park and presented their findings in public programming during 2016's National Park Week.

ASMSA Director Corey Alderdice said having Hot Springs National Park nearby was a great advantage for the school.

“Among the schools like ASMSA spread across the nation, none are as fortunate as we to have a resource as unique as Hot Springs National Park,” Alderdice said.  “The partnerships our faculty and students have developed with the National Park Service through Research in the Park and other volunteer opportunities are not only a means of engaging in research and service but also a chance to experience nature, history, and the very thing that defines our community.”

Dr. Lindsey Waddell, a chemistry and geoscience instructor at ASMSA, is one of two faculty members who work with the RiP program. She said the award reflects the hard work of ASMSA’s students and the National Park Service members.

“I always feel like we’re doing our small part,” Waddell said.. “I look at it from the perspective that we have been able to help each other. It allows the National Park to have an active research program. We have students who push us to do more.”

Continuing the tradition, this year’s RiP students will present their research findings during 2017’s National Park Week. On Monday, April 17, from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m., the students will talk about mapping invasive vegetation in the park, about unique heat-loving organisms that live in the thermal waters of the park, about the beetles in the park’s museum collection, and about the geology of the Hot Springs Sandstone. The presentations will be given at the Fordyce Bathhouse in the first floor theater and are open to the public.

Hot Springs National Park and ASMSA will continue this unique volunteering and research relationship at the close of National Park Week by welcoming a group of students from Tennoji High School in Osaka, Japan, on Earth Day (April 22). The students will learn about water chemistry, sampling methods, thermophilic bacteria and algae, and many other topics related to the hot springs.

About ASMSA: The Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts is one of 16 public residential high schools in the country specializing in the education of academically gifted juniors and seniors. Located in historic downtown Hot Springs, the school is a campus of the University of Arkansas System. For more information about Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts, visit www.asmsa.org or call 1-800-345-2767.

For more information about the VIP program or the Hartzog award, contact Park Ranger Brian Schwieger at 501.620.6703 or by email at brian_schwieger@nps.gov. For more information about park resources and ongoing research, contact Natural Resource Program Manager Shelley Todd at 501.620.6751 or by email at shelley_todd@nps.gov. Follow Hot Springs National Park online at www.nps.gov/hosp and on Facebook/Instagram @HotSpringsNPS.

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