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Recent Supreme Court Decisions Offer Primary Sources on Leading Issues

Educators, do you and your students need primary source materials on current controversial social issues? Look no further than SIRS Knowledge Source’s U.S. Supreme Court feature. SIRS editors hand-select Supreme Court decisions based on their relevance to student research and support of SIRS Leading Issues. Users can access Supreme Court cases via the Supreme Court feature in the Government Reporter product, or in the Advanced Search feature in SIRS Knowledge Source by choosing the Primary Sources tab in article results (All available primary sources will appear in the search results).

SIRS Knowledge Source Advanced Search Screenshot via SIRS Issues Researcher

The Court’s most recent term, which concluded the last week of June, saw quite a few compromise decisions since the Court operated without a ninth justice for most of the term. After the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016, the Court was left with only eight justices for 14 months while the White House and Congress battled over its membership. But in April, President Donald Trump’s first nominee, Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed and joined the Court to create a conservative majority.

Current Supreme Court Justices. Front row, left to right: Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer. Back row: Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Neil M. Gorsuch. (Credit: Franz Jantzen, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States) [public domain]

While there were not a lot of high-profile cases, the Court nevertheless handed down some important decisions involving freedom of religion, gay rights, capital punishment, treatment of prisoners, property rights, free speech, child protection laws and election law. Below we highlight some of the decisions from this term, and their relevance to SIRS Leading Issues topics.

* Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools (Feb. 22, 2017): The Court ruled in a case involving the use of a service dog by a child with cerebral palsy that a student or their family can sue a school district over a disability issue without exhausting all administrative procedures under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

(Related Leading Issue: Education Policy)

* Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District RE-1 (March 22, 2017): The Court decided that schools can’t settle for minimal academic progress by students with disabilities.

(Related Leading Issues: Autism, Education Policy)

* Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc. (March 22, 2017): The Court determined that designs on cheerleading uniforms can be protected by copyright law.

(Related Leading Issues: Cheerleading, Copyright Infringement, Sports)

* Moore v. Texas (March 28, 2017): The Court ruled that the outdated medical standards used by the state of Texas to determine that a convicted murderer was not intellectually disabled and thus eligible for execution violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, as well as Supreme Court precedent.

(Related Leading Issues: Capital Punishment, Treatment of Prisoners, Mental Health)

* Expressions Hair Design v. Schneiderman (March 29, 2017) The Court decided that the New York General Business Law was not unconstitutionally vague under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

(Related Leading Issues: Freedom of Speech)

* Cooper v. Harris (May 22, 2017): The Court determined that North Carolina’s new congressional districting plan constituted an unconstitutional racial gerrymander.

(Related Leading Issues: Racial Discrimination, Elections, Government Ethics)

* Sessions v. Morales-Santana (June 12, 2017): The Court determined that disparate citizenship rules for children of unwed mothers and fathers violates the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection.

(Related Leading Issues: Illegal Immigration, Immigration)

* Matal v. Tam (June 19, 2017): The Court ruled that the government can’t reject trademarks that might be disparaging or offensive to some people.

(Related Leading Issues: Controversial Mascots, Ethnic Relations, Freedom of Speech)

* McWilliams v. Dunn (June 19, 2017): The Court decided that an indigent defendant whose competence is a significant issue at trial is entitled to a psychiatric expert, who is independent of the prosecution.

(Related Leading Issues: Criminal Justice, Death Penalty/Capital Punishment, Mental Health)

* Packingham v. North Carolina (June 19, 2017) The Court ruled that the North Carolina law prohibiting registered sex offenders from accessing various websites, where minors are known to be active and have accounts, regardless of whether or not the sex offender directly interacted with a minor, violates the First Amendment.

(Related Leading Issues: Freedom of Speech, Social media, Child protection laws, Convicted felons)

* Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer (June 26, 2017) The Court decided that the exclusion of churches from an otherwise neutral and secular aid program violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of free exercise of religion.

(Related Leading Issues: Freedom of Religion, Church and State) 

* Pavan v. Smith (June 26, 2017) The Court ruled that an Arkansas statute that precludes both names of a same-sex married couple from being listed as parents on a child’s birth certificate is an unconstitutional discrimination, considering the Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), which legalized same-sex marriage.

(Related Leading Issues: Gay Liberation Movement, Same-sex marriage, LGBT rights, Human Reproductive Technology) 

U.S. Supreme Court Conference Room via U.S. Supreme Court [public domain]

Each case in SIRS Knowledge Source’s U.S. Supreme Court feature includes a full-text PDF version of the opinion, as well as a concise and easy-to-understand summary explaining the question before the Court and its decision. Cases can be browsed by subject heading, topic, by Constitutional Article and Amendment, or alphabetically. You can also find biographical information on current and past justices, a reference article that explains the role of the Supreme Court and its history, a full-text version of the U.S. Constitution with amendments and historical notes, a list of supplementary references for students and educators, and more.

The Supreme Court’s upcoming term for 2017-2018 began on October 2, and the justices have already agreed to hear 33 cases. These cases involve immigration (President Trump’s controversial travel ban); more gay rights issues (a showdown between religious freedom and state anti-discrimination laws); government surveillance (the use of cell phone location records by police without a warrant); election law (a state’s attempt to clean up its voter rolls, and another election redistricting case); and gambling (sports betting at casinos and racetracks); among others.

Stay tuned for decisions in these important cases, and keep SIRS Knowledge Source in mind when you need easy access to primary source material for lesson plans or student research.

Don’t have SIRS Knowledge Source at your school or library? Free trials are available.

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12 Years Later: Remembering Hurricane Katrina

Twelve years ago, Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast. Nearly 93,000 square miles were impacted by Katrina. 138 counties and parishes were affected by the storm. New Orleans, Louisiana, Gulfport, Mississippi, and Mobile, Alabama were among the devastated cities that bore the brunt of Katrina’s destruction. The 12th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is a great opportunity for educators to help students learn about one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States.

People sit on a roof waiting to be rescued after Hurricane Katrina.

People sit on a roof waiting to be rescued after Hurricane Katrina.
By Jocelyn Augustino / FEMA (This image is from the FEMA Photo Library.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

To commemorate the anniversary, here are 10 facts about Hurricane Katrina:

1. Hurricane Katrina struck Florida first.

On August 23, 2005, a tropical depression developed in the Bahamas. The tropical depression intensified into Tropical Storm Katrina the next day. On August 25th, Katrina made landfall in South Florida between North Miami Beach and Hallandale Beach as a Category 1 hurricane, with wind speeds of approximately 80 mph.

2. Hurricane Katrina became a Category 5 storm on August 28, 2005.

After crossing over Florida, Katrina moved into the Gulf of Mexico and strengthened into a Category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of approximately 175 mph.

3. The first-ever mandatory evacuation for New Orleans was issued on August 28, 2005.

The day before Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin ordered the first-ever mandatory evacuation of the city. It is estimated that about 80% of the city’s residents evacuated. Residents who lacked transportation were urged to go to the Superdome, a domed sports venue and home of the New Orleans Saints. The stadium was to be used as a “shelter of last resort” for people unable to evacuate the city. Approximately 26,000 people sought refuge in the Superdome. Unfortunately, the stadium, which became synonymous with the misery of Hurricane Katrina, was undersupplied and understaffed–demonstrating how woefully unprepared local, state, and federal government officials were for the catastrophic event.

4. Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005.

On Monday, August 29, 2005, Katrina made landfall as a Category 3 hurricane near Buras, Louisiana, with winds estimated at 125 mph. Katrina continued northward and made its final landfall as a Category 3 hurricane near the Louisiana/Mississippi border with winds estimated at 120 mph.

5. Approximately 80% of New Orleans was underwater.

Much of the damage and devastation from Hurricane Katrina was due to the storm surge. Hurricane Katrina’s storm surge overwhelmed the levee system built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to protect the city from flooding. The flooding was so extensive in low-lying areas like the Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish that people climbed to rooftops for safety.

6. Hurricane Katrina was the costliest and the third deadliest hurricane in U.S. history.

The storm caused an estimated $108 billion in damage and resulted in 1,833 fatalities, according to CNN. The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency has described Hurricane Katrina as the “single most catastrophic natural disaster in U.S. history.”

7. Hurricane Katrina displaced more than one million people in the Gulf Coast region.

Hurricane evacuee shelters accommodated 273,000 people at their peak. FEMA trailers were used to house approximately 114,000 households. Up to 600,000 households remained displaced a month after the storm.

8. New Orleans lost more than half of its population.

The population of New Orleans decreased from 484,674 in April 2000 to approximately 230,172 in July 2006, almost a year after Hurricane Katrina. By 2015, the city’s population was at 80% of what it was before Katrina in 2000.

9. Hurricane Katrina damaged over one million housing units across the Gulf Coast.

Approximately half of the damaged housing units were in Louisiana. 134,000 housing units in New Orleans were damaged as a result of Hurricane Katrina and the ensuing flooding.

10. Post-Katrina, the federal government has spent $120.5 billion on the Gulf Coast region.

$75 billion of that money was used for emergency relief operations.

For more information on Hurricane Katrina, check out these related resources available through ProQuest eLibrary and ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher.

Hurricane Katrina (2005) Research Topic

Hurricanes Research Topic

In Depth: Hurricane Katrina

Storm That Drowned a City

Happy Birthday, P.T. Barnum!

Today marks the 207th birthday of Phineas Taylor “P.T.” Barnum. The legendary showman is best remembered for his elaborate hoaxes and founding the circus he called “The Greatest Show on Earth.” He entertained the public by promoting human curiosities, animal attractions, and music concerts.

P.T. Barnum Research Topic Screencap via ProQuest eLibrary

P.T. Barnum Research Topic Screencap via ProQuest eLibrary

Early Life

P.T. Barnum was born in Bethel, Connecticut on July 5, 1810. He started his journey as an entrepreneur at a young age. At 12-years-old, he was selling cherry-rum to soldiers. His various jobs included working as a store-keeper, running a lottery business, and editing his own newspaper called the “Herald of Freedom.”

The “Great American Showman”

Barnum moved to New York City in 1834. A year later, he launched his entertainment career when he purchased and exhibited Joice Heth, a blind African-American slave. Heth was touted as being George Washington’s 161-year-old former nurse. After Heth’s death in February of 1836, Barnum staged a public autopsy that revealed Heth was probably not older than 80.

In December of 1841, Barnum bought Scudder’s American Museum and relaunched it as Barnum’s American Museum on January 1, 1842. The museum’s collections included historic exhibitions, taxidermied animals, live animals, wax figures, and oddities–such as the “Feejee Mermaid.”

In 1842, Barnum met a 4-year-old dwarf named Charles Sherwood Stratton in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Stratton weighed 15 pounds and was 25 inches tall. Barnum hired Stratton for $3.00 a week and introduced him to audiences as “General Tom Thumb.” Barnum told the public that Stratton was 11-years-old to avoid accusations that he was exhibiting a child somewhat smaller than average. The exhibit’s massive popularity led to a tour of Europe, which included a performance for Queen Victoria.

One of Barnum’s most successful ventures was his promotion of Swedish opera performer Jenny Lind. Barnum brought the “Swedish Nightingale” from Europe to the United States in 1850 for a triumphant tour that set astounding box-office records. Barnum reportedly earned over $500,000 for the tour.

Bridgeport, Connecticut

In addition to being a promoter, Barnum was interested in transforming Bridgeport, Connecticut into a booming metropolis. He suffered bankruptcy after trying to lure the ill-fated Jerome Clock Company to his adopted hometown. Barnum restored his monetary standing by touring with General Tom Thumb and through a lecture tour. He was Bridgeport’s mayor for one term and served two terms in the Connecticut legislature.

Circus Pioneer

On July 13, 1865, Barnum’s American Museum was destroyed by a fire. He opened a second museum that also burned down in 1868. In 1870, Barnum agreed to collaborate with circus managers W.C. Coup and Dan Castello on a gigantic circus venture. P.T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan, and Circus opened in Brooklyn on April 10, 1871. Many of Barnum’s old performers were recruited for what he referred to as “The Greatest Show on Earth.” In 1874, Barnum’s spectacular show found a permanent home at the New York Hippodrome, now known as Madison Square Garden.

In 1881, Barnum combined forces with his chief rival James Bailey to form the Barnum & London Circus. Barnum and Bailey experienced great success the following season with the purchase of Jumbo. The legendary elephant weighed 6 ½ tons and stood over 11 ½ feet tall. Jumbo delighted audiences until his accidental death in 1885.

In 1887, Barnum agreed to relinquish control of the circus, which became the Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth.

Legacy

Barnum died on April 7, 1891. After Barnum’s death, Bailey managed the show for many years. In 1907, Bailey’s competitors, the Ringling brothers bought the Barnum & Bailey show. The two shows were combined in 1919, becoming known as the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows, The Greatest Show on Earth. As someone who grew up with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and loved the extravaganza, it is with a heavy heart that I write that “The Greatest Show on Earth” no longer exists. The iconic circus gave its final performance on May 21, 2017 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.

Resources

P.T. Barnum is remembered as a brilliant promoter who transformed entertainment. Educators, have your students learn more about his life and career through these websites available in SIRS Issues Researcher and these ProQuest Research Topics available in eLibrary:

The Barnum Museum

Circus Research Topic

Circuses and Sideshows

The Lost Museum

P.T. Barnum and the Management of Spectacle

P.T. Barnum Research Topic

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Summer Learning: Celebrate Great Outdoors Month

Summer is a wonderful opportunity for learning in the great outdoors. June is recognized as Great Outdoors Month. In 1998, President Clinton established Great Outdoors Week to celebrate America’s natural treasures. The week-long celebration was expanded by President George W. Bush in 2004 when he issued the first Presidential Proclamation designating the entire month of June as Great Outdoors Month. This recognition emphasizes the benefits of outdoor recreation and encourages Americans to enjoy our magnificent public lands and waterways. The annual tradition has continued under the Obama administration. In 2015, proclamations were issued by all 50 governors declaring June as Great Outdoors Month.

Hikers on the North Inlet Trail

Hikers on the North Inlet Trail
By Brian & Jaclyn Drum (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Exciting events occurring during Great Outdoors Month include National Trails Day, National Fishing & Boating Week, National Get Outdoors Day, National Marina Day, and the Great American Campout. Great Outdoors Month reminds people to take the time to appreciate the natural beauty around us. If you are interested in getting outside and reconnecting with nature, here are some ways to celebrate Great Outdoors Month.

Plan a camping trip, take a hike, go rock climbing and horseback riding. Watch wildlife. You don’t have to go far to enjoy the great outdoors. Walk or jog in a neighborhood park. Ride a bicycle. Have a picnic or barbecue in your own backyard. Plant a garden. If you like the water, beaches, lakes, rivers, and waterfalls are great places for outdoor activities. Go boating, fishing, swimming, diving, snorkeling, canoeing, and kayaking. Visit a national or state park.

I love exploring national parks. I’ve visited some of the most popular ones, including the Great Smoky Mountains, Yellowstone, and Yosemite. National parks offer visitors stunning landscapes, breathtaking views, and an opportunity to view wildlife in their natural habitat. National parks are amazing and I hope someday I’ll be able to visit all of them, but my favorite park is not a national park, it’s a state park on the central coast of California.

Often overshadowed by national parks, I believe state parks are hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is a perfect example. Point Lobos may not get as much attention as Yosemite, but in my opinion, it is the most beautiful place in the world. Many beautiful state parks—like Point Lobos are exceptional for hiking, photography, sightseeing, and observing wildlife.

eLibrary contains many resources related to national and state parks. If you want to learn more about America’s national parks, click here. If you want to find more information about state parks, perform a basic search in eLibrary by typing in the name of a state followed by parks. When I was planning a trip to Utah and wanted to know more about Utah’s state parks. I typed in Utah parks and I retrieved this Research Topic page in the results list Utah Forests & Parks.

How will you and your students explore learning outside during Great Outdoors Month? Check out the following SIRS WebSelect and ProQuest eLibrary resources to get some ideas about how you can enjoy outdoor recreation.

Camping Research Topic

Hiking Research Topic

National Park Service

National Park Service Research Topic

National Parks Research Topic

The National Parks: America’s Best Ideas

“The Greatest Show on Earth” Is Closing After 146 Years

“It is the only spectacle I know, that, while you watch it, gives the quality of a truly happy dream.”—Ernest Hemingway

Elephants Performing at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus

Elephants Performing at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
By Amy n Rob (originally posted to Flickr as Circus 1 (183)) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

In a couple of weeks, “The Greatest Show on Earth” will cease to exist. After 146 years, the iconic Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will deliver its final performance on May 21 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. The circus, with its acrobats, clowns, and animal acts, has been a staple of American entertainment for over a century. Once lauded as wholesome family fun, the show has become increasingly controversial in recent years. The circus has been targeted for decades by animal rights activists, who say that forcing animals to perform for human entertainment is cruel and inhumane.

In January, Kenneth Feld, chairman, and CEO of Feld Entertainment, which owns Ringling Bros., told The Associated Press that high operating costs combined with declining attendance, changing tastes, and lengthy battles with animal rights organizations, all contributed to the American spectacle’s demise. Feld Entertainment spent years fighting allegations of elephant mistreatment. Despite never losing in court, and winning $25 million in settlements from animal rights groups, the company lost in the court of public opinion. Pressure from animal rights groups and shifting public attitudes toward the use of captive wild animals for entertainment purposes forced Ringling Bros. to end its practice of using performing elephants in May of 2016. The retired circus elephants were sent to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation in central Florida. Ticket sales plummeted following the removal of the elephants from the show.

The company’s decision to close the circus has been hailed as a major victory by animal rights groups. “After 36 years of PETA protests, which have awoken the world to the plight of animals in captivity, PETA heralds the end of what has been the saddest show on earth for wild animals, and asks all other animal circuses to follow suit, as this is a sign of changing times,” Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a longtime critic of the circus, wrote in a statement.

But not everyone is happy to see the circus come to an end. About 400 circus employees will soon be out of a job. “It’s traumatic!” said ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson, expressing his sadness. “For artists and crew alike, it’s bearing witness to the death of the penultimate icon of our industry. This decision has international ramifications. Artists, the world over, work their entire lives to get to the Greatest Show On Earth.”

What do your students think about the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus shutting down? Do they support or oppose the use of animals for entertainment? Do they think using animals for entertainment constitutes cruelty? They can learn more about both sides of the debate in our Animal Cruelty Leading Issue.

SIRS Leading Issue: Animal Welfare

SIRS Leading Issue: Animal Welfare by ProQuest LLC via ProQuest SIRS Issue Researcher

Let us know your thoughts about the closing of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Comment below or tweet us using #ProQuest.

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Looking for Field Trip Ideas? Here Are 5 State Parks to Visit This Spring

Spring is in the air! It is a great time for students to get outside and enjoy nature. One way students can connect with the great outdoors is to visit a state park. State parks are frequently used by educators and students as outdoor classrooms. They offer students unique environmental and historical learning opportunities. If you’re looking to create a memorable experience for your students, consider planning a field trip to one of these stunning state parks.

 

Antelope Island State Park, Utah

Antelope Island State Park, Utah
(Credit: Michelle Brault)

1. Antelope Island State Park

Antelope Island State Park is located north of Salt Lake City, Utah and is accessible via the Davis County Causeway. The park provides excellent views of the Great Salt Lake and is home to many kinds of animals, including bison, pronghorn antelope, mule deer, bighorn sheep, bobcats, coyotes, and a wide variety of birds. One of the highlights of my trip to Antelope Island State Park was getting the chance to see bison and beautiful horses at the Fielding Garr Ranch. A visit to the park is not complete without stopping at the historic ranch. The ranch house built by Fielding Garr is the “oldest original-foundation Anglo building” in the state of Utah.

Antelope Island State Park provides numerous field trip opportunities. Students can take a guided hike to Buffalo Point, participate in a scavenger hunt during the visitor center tour, and wade into the Great Salt Lake to look for brine shrimp and brine flies. If you’re thinking about planning a field trip to Antelope Island State Park, check out some of these lesson plans offered by the park to get you started:

Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah

Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah
(Credit: Michelle Brault)

2. Dead Horse Point State Park

Dead Horse Point State Park is one of the most popular state parks in Utah. The park is located near the town of Moab, which also serves as the gateway to Arches and Canyonlands national parks. The park’s main attraction is the Dead Horse Point Overlook Trail. The overlook offers breathtaking views of the Colorado River and adjoining canyon country 2,000 feet below.

Dead Horse Point State Park offers students the chance to learn about geology, local flora and fauna, prehistoric cultures, and the park environment.

Emerald Bay State Park, California

Emerald Bay State Park, California
(Credit: Michelle Brault)

3. Emerald Bay State Park

For anyone interested in experiencing the beauty of Lake Tahoe, California’s Emerald Bay State Park is a must-see. It is located 12 miles north of South Lake Tahoe. The park offers sightseeing, hiking, boating, swimming, scuba diving, and kayaking. The scenic overlook on Highway 89 provides visitors with a magnificent panorama of Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, and Fannette Island. In 1969, the U.S. Department of Interior designated Emerald Bay as a National Natural Landmark.

If you’re considering taking your students on a field trip to Emerald Bay State Park, I highly recommend taking a tour of Vikingsholm. The historic mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is considered “one of the finest examples of Scandinavian architecture” in the country. Guided tours are available for a nominal fee from Memorial Day through September.

Franconia Notch State Park

Franconia Notch State Park, New Hampshire
(Credit: Michelle Brault)

4. Franconia Notch State Park

Franconia Notch State Park is located within the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire. It offers students the opportunity to see some amazing geological wonders. The park was home to New Hampshire’s beloved Old Man of the Mountain landmark until it collapsed on May 3, 2003.

Popular activities at the park include riding the aerial tramway at Cannon Mountain, walking through the spectacular Flume Gorge, and visiting the New England Ski Museum. Other activities include boating, fly fishing, swimming, bike riding, hiking, and camping. If you live in New England, I encourage you to take your students on a field trip to visit this magnificent state park.

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, California

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, California
(Credit: Michelle Brault)

5. Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is considered the “crown jewel” of the California State Park system. The entrance is located on California Highway 1 just south of Carmel. Point Lobos is known for its breathtaking ocean vistas, scenic trails, and its abundant wildlife. On my trips to Point Lobos, I’ve been lucky enough to see deer, sea lions, harbor seals, and sea otters.

Point Lobos gives students a chance to appreciate the natural treasures of California’s Central Coast, making it an ideal destination for an educational field trip. Students can observe marine mammals in their natural habitat, study the area’s diverse flora and fauna, and visit the Whalers Cabin and the Whaling Station Museum to learn about the cultural history of Point Lobos.  I’ve visited Point Lobos many times, and in my opinion, it is the most beautiful place on Earth.

Now you know some of my favorite state parks, tell me about the state parks you love to visit. Are you planning an upcoming field trip to a state park? What state parks do you recommend?

Comment below or tweet us using #ProQuest.

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Red Cross Month Offers Learning Opportunities

March has been designated as Red Cross Month by every U.S. president since World War II. The American Red Cross is a charitable organization committed to providing care to people in need. The humanitarian organization’s mission is to prevent and relieve suffering. It depends on volunteers and generous donors to support its lifesaving programs and services. March is the perfect time to educate your students about the history of the American Red Cross, the services it provides, and the volunteer opportunities available.

American Red Cross Truck

American Red Cross Truck
By Ibagli (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The American Red Cross was founded on May 21, 1881, in Washington, D.C. by Clara Barton. Clarissa Harlowe Barton worked as a school teacher and as a recording clerk at the U.S. Patent Office in Washington, D.C. During the Civil War, she provided assistance to the soldiers by bringing them supplies and offering them support. When she visited Europe after the Civil War, Barton was introduced to the global Red Cross network in Geneva, Switzerland. After she returned to the United States, Barton lobbied for an American Red Cross and for U.S. ratification of the Geneva Treaty.  The treaty was signed by President Chester A. Arthur on March 1, 1882, and ratified by the U.S. Senate on March 16, 1882.

Clara Barton

Clara Barton
Mathew Brady [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Clara Barton became the first president of the American Red Cross. She led the organization for 23 years. During Barton’s tenure, the American Red Cross conducted its first disaster relief efforts domestically and abroad, cared for American soldiers during the Spanish-American War, and successfully campaigned for the inclusion of relief work in peacetime.

Today, the American Red Cross is focused on five key areas:

Disaster Relief: Every year the American Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters in the United States, ranging from home fires to hurricanes. Disaster victims are provided with food, shelter, and health and mental health services.

Lifesaving Blood: The American Red Cross is the “largest single supplier of blood and blood products” in the United States. Every year, approximately 4 million people support the American Red Cross by donating blood, helping to provide over 40% of the nation’s blood supply.

Supporting U.S. Military Families: The American Red Cross assists members of the military, veterans, and their families by helping them plan for, manage, and respond to the unique challenges of military service.

International Services: The American Red Cross provides assistance to disaster victims around the world, invests in disaster preparedness, reconnects families who have been separated by disaster and international war, helps vaccinate children against measles, and educates about international humanitarian law.

Health and Safety Services: The American Red Cross is the leading provider of safety and health courses in the United States. Such courses include CPR, Lifeguard training, and First Aid. Every year, over 9 million Americans take park in the organization’s training programs, including educators, first responders, and babysitters.

Being young is not a barrier to volunteering at the American Red Cross—approximately 25% of the organization’s volunteers are 24 years old or younger. The American Red Cross offers many opportunities for youth to have diverse and new experiences, serve the needs of their communities, and gain leadership skills. Some volunteer opportunities for young people include hosting a blood drive, distributing disaster preparedness information, assembling comfort kits for disaster victims, and fundraising activities.

Students can also start or join a Red Cross Club. Red Cross Clubs give students a chance to connect with their peers while helping their community. Students who volunteer with the American Red Cross are able to make a meaningful impact in people’s lives, maximize their talents, learn life-saving skills, and improve their resumes.

Will you or your students be participating in any activities to celebrate Red Cross Month? Leave us a comment or tweet us using #ProQuest.

To learn more about the American Red Cross, explore these websites available in SIRS Issues Researcher and this ProQuest Research Topic available in eLibrary:

American Red Cross

Clara Barton’s House: Home of the American Red Cross

International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement Research Topic

Happy 45th Anniversary Capitol Reef National Park!

“National parks are America’s largest classrooms.”–National Park Service

A visit to a national park, actual or virtual, is a valuable learning experience. The state of Utah offers abundant learning opportunities as home to five national parks: Arches, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef. This week marks the 45th anniversary of Capitol Reef being established as a national park. On Aug. 2, 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed Capitol Reef a national monument. President Richard M. Nixon signed legislation establishing Capitol Reef as a national park on Dec. 18, 1971. I would like to commemorate Capitol Reef’s anniversary by sharing some interesting facts about this beautiful park.

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park
(Credit: Michelle Brault)

Capitol Reef National Park is a hidden treasure located in south-central Utah. Capitol Reef received its name because early settlers observed that the white domes of Navajo Sandstone resembled the dome of the U.S. Capitol building. Prospectors in the area called Waterpocket Fold, a ridge in the earth’s crust, a reef because it was a difficult barrier to transportation. The park encompasses 241,904 acres. It is the state’s newest and least-visited national park, attracting almost 750,000 visitors every year.

I recently got to explore this often overlooked park, and I can tell you that if you take the time to visit this wondrous place, you won’t be disappointed. The park contains colorful canyons, red sandstone cliffs, ancient Fremont petroglyphs, diverse wildlife, the historic Fruita orchards, and amazing geological features. Capitol Reef National Park is defined by the Waterpocket Fold. The classic monocline extends for nearly 100 miles. The majestic park’s prominent landmarks include Cassidy Arch, Chimney Rock, Hickman Bridge, Temple of the Sun, Temple of the Moon, and my personal favorite, the Castle.

The Castle in Capitol Reef National Park

The Castle in Capitol Reef National Park
(Credit: Michelle Brault)

I was impressed by Capitol Reef’s geologic features, but I was equally impressed with the park’s unique history. People have lived in the area of Capitol Reef for thousands of years. The earliest inhabitants of the Capitol Reef area were archaic hunters and gatherers, the Fremont people, and Mormon pioneers who settled in the area that is now known as the Fruita Rural Historic District.

As much as I enjoyed learning about the park’s history and seeing the spectacular scenery, because I am an animal lover, the highlight of my visit was spotting mule deer. Capitol Reef is home to 71 mammal species, 239 bird species, 15 reptiles, 13 native fish species, and 5 amphibians.

I am so grateful that 45 years ago, Capitol Reef was reclassified as a national park. Since there are so many gorgeous destinations to visit in Utah, I have a feeling that if Capitol Reef had remained a monument, there is a chance I would have missed out on this remarkable place.

Take your students on a virtual field trip to Capitol Reef National Park! Explore these resources available in ProQuest eLibrary and SIRS Issues Researcher:

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park Research Topic

Utah Forests and Parks Research Topic

Remembering Walt Disney

50 years ago today, the world mourned the loss of one of its most beloved figures. Walter Elias Disney died of acute circulatory collapse brought on by lung cancer. He passed away at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Burbank, California on Dec. 15, 1966. He was 65 years old.

Disney had undergone surgery for the removal of a lung tumor on Nov. 21. The tumor was discovered while he was being treated at the hospital for an old neck injury he had sustained during a polo match. He returned to St. Joseph’s Hospital for a “post-operative checkup” on Nov. 30. He remained in the hospital until his death.

Walt Disney Research Topic

Walt Disney Research Topic Screencap via ProQuest eLibrary

Walt Disney was born in Chicago, Illinois on Dec. 5, 1901. Walt Disney is regarded as one of the most influential figures in the entertainment industry during the 20th century. He created the beloved cartoon character Mickey Mouse and revolutionized the theme park industry by building Disneyland. Walt was an innovator and visionary leader who became a cultural icon.

He co-founded the media conglomerate that is now known as The Walt Disney Company with his brother Roy O. Disney in 1923. He was a pioneer in the animation industry, a film and television producer, an entrepreneur, and a dreamer. He was even the original voice of Mickey Mouse.

Although Walt Disney has been dead for 50 years, his legacy lives on. Generations of children have grown up watching his animated classics and live-action films, including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and Mary Poppins. Millions of people, including myself continue to enjoy his theme parks each year and The Walt Disney Company has become an entertainment empire.

On the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney’s death, I encourage you to explore more about his life and legendary career by checking out these resources available in ProQuest eLibrary and SIRS Issues Researcher:

Disneyland Research Topic

10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Walt Disney

Walt Disney

Walt Disney Research Topic

Walt Disney Company Research Topic

Walt Disney World Research Topic

Walter Elias Disney

Happy Centennial, San Diego Zoo!

The San Diego Zoo is celebrating its 100th anniversary. I’ve visited the San Diego Zoo twice and both times I was amazed by the sheer size of the zoo. Located in Balboa Park, the 100-acre San Diego Zoo is one of the largest zoos in the world, with more than 3,700 animals representing over 650 species and subspecies. The goal of San Diego Zoo Global, the umbrella organization for the San Diego Zoo, is to help end extinction. San Diego Zoo Global participates in more than 130 conservation projects in over 35 countries and has reintroduced 43 species into the wild. In honor of the San Diego Zoo’s centennial, here are some interesting facts about the history of the world-famous zoo.

Bai Yun, a female Giant Panda at San Diego Zoo, California

Bai Yun, a female Giant Panda at San Diego Zoo, California
By Mfield, Matthew Field, http://www.photography.mattfield.com (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), [ CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

It All Started with a Roar

The idea of opening a zoo in San Diego was conceived by Dr. Harry Wegeforth. On September 16, 1916, the local physician was driving past Balboa Park with his brother, Paul, when he heard an abandoned lion roaring. The lion had been left over from an exhibit for the 1915-1916 Panama-California Exposition. Dr. Wegeforth said to his brother, “Wouldn’t it be splendid if San Diego had a zoo! You know…I think I’ll start one.”

Beginnings

Dr. Wegeforth, his brother, Dr. Fred Baker, Frank Stephens, and Dr. Joseph Thompson formed the Zoological Society of San Diego (now San Diego Zoo Global) on October 2, 1916. Originally, the San Diego Zoo consisted of animal exhibits left behind from the Panama-California Exposition.

In 1917, a brown female bear named Caesar became one of the first animals given to the San Diego Zoo. Caesar had been living on a Navy ship as a mascot, but after getting too rambunctious, the sailors decided to donate her to the new zoo. When Caesar arrived at the harbor, zoo officials didn’t have any trucks to transport her. Dr. Thompson, the acting director of the zoo at the time, sat her in the front seat of his roadster and drove her to her new home at the San Diego Zoo.

Zoo Exhibit Design

The San Diego Zoo became the first zoo in the United States to display animals in open-air grottoes in the 1920s. The exhibits featured large moats as an alternative to cages. This meant there were no longer bars between the zoo animals and the visiting public.

Balboa Park

The Board of Park Commissioners for the City of San Diego approved the site for the zoo in Balboa Park in 1921. The same year, Ellen Browning Scripps donated $9,000 for a fence to indicate the zoo’s designated boundaries. Her donation made it possible for the zoo to charge an admission fee of 10 cents when it had its grand opening in January 1923.

Giant Pandas Arrive

In 1987, San Diego fell in love with two giant pandas Basi and Yuan Yuan when they came to the zoo for a 200-day visit. The pandas were seen by over 2 million people during their stay. The appearance of two giant pandas outside of China was a rare event. By hosting the giant pandas, the San Diego Zoo gave people the opportunity to see the charismatic species in person and raised awareness about their endangered status.

On September 10, 1996, two giant pandas from the People’s Republic of China arrived at the San Diego Zoo. Bai Yun and Shi Shi were part of a landmark 12-year research loan agreement that has been extended multiple times. On August 21, 1999, Bai Yun gave birth to Hua Mei, who is the first surviving giant panda cub born in the United States.

The black-and-white bears remain as popular as ever among zoo visitors. I visited the San Diego Zoo in the beginning of 2016 and I believe the wait time to view the pandas was between 1-2 hours.  Unfortunately on that visit I didn’t get a chance to see the pandas because I spent too much time admiring my favorite animal–the polar bear. Have you been to the San Diego Zoo? What’s your must-see animal at the San Diego Zoo? Comment below or tweet us using #ProQuest.

If you’re not able to visit the San Diego Zoo in person, check out the zoo’s videos and live cams to see your favorite animal. To learn more about the San Diego Zoo, explore these resources available in SIRS Issues Researcher.

Animal Attractions: Amazing Tales from the San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo Animals

San Diego Zoo Centennial

San Diego Zoo’s Panda Cam