Department of the Interior

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For Immediate Release:
May 5, 2006
Contact: Mark Engler 402-223-3514
Jenni Garrison 202-256-0005

Beatrice Middle School Students Honored by National Volunteer Program, Homestead National Monument of America

Beatrice, NE - Nearly 200 Beatrice Middle School eighth-grade students were recognized in a ceremony today at the school for their water quality monitoring efforts at Homestead National Monument of America. The assembly gathered the eighth grade class, school officials, the Executive Director of the Washington DC-based volunteer program, "Take Pride in America", and the Superintendent and staff of Homestead National Monument of America.

The water quality monitoring project ran through the 2005-06 school year and required the students to spend four days per month gathering and analyzing water samples from the Monument as a supplement to their school curriculum.

Take Pride in America®, a nationwide volunteer program within the Department of the Interior, recognized not only the work of the students, but also the example they have set for other schools.

"Beatrice Middle School is a model for other schools in Gage County and across Nebraska. These students demonstrated an inventive way to combine learning outside the classroom, caring for a national treasure, and volunteering in their community," said Michelle Cangelosi, executive director of Take Pride. "That embodies the goal of the Take Pride Schools program," she continued.

Beatrice Middle School is the only school in the state registered with the Take Pride Schools program, which engages a younger generation in learning about public lands and volunteering to help care for them.

Homestead National Monument of America Superintendent Mark Engler commended the accuracy and necessity of the students' work. "Before this group began, the Monument monitored the water twice a year. Now, it is monitored monthly. The benefit is that any changes in water chemistry will show right away, so it can help us identify mitigation strategies, " Engler said.

Susan Cook, Volunteer Manager for the Monument, added that "not only we are protecting and monitoring our nation's resources while doing this, but we are bridging a generation gap. It's very rewarding to see the adult volunteers and students learning from each other, both in the stream and in the classroom."

Take Pride in America ® is a partnership program that enables and encourages individuals, civic groups, corporations and others to volunteer in caring for the lands that we share. Our goal is to instill an active sense of ownership and responsibility in every citizen for our natural, cultural and historic resources. For more information, visit