Dr. Milton Chen

Robin W. Winks Award
for Enhancing Public Understanding of #NationalParks

NPCA is pleased to recognize Dr. Milton Chen for his ongoing work to promote ‘place-based learning’—going beyond the textbooks in finding new ways for teachers to teach and children to learn by doing—and his strong vision of national parks as outdoor classrooms.

Dr. Milton Chen is a leading voice for ‘place-based learning’ – going beyond textbooks and the traditional four walls of the classroom to learn by doing.  It emphasizes, among other things, using national parks as outdoor classrooms, weaving science, history and other lessons into park activities that challenge students to learn and solve problems.

Dr. Chen’s interest in finding ways to connect children to the outdoors spans a nearly 25-year career in education.   He is currently senior fellow and executive director, emeritus at The George Lucas Educational Foundation (GLEF). GLEF is a non-profit operating foundation in the San Francisco Bay Area that uses its award-winning multimedia website Edutopia.org and documentary films to communicate a new vision for 21st Century schools. 

Prior to joining GLEF, Dr. Chen worked on PBS children’s television programs Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and 3-2-1 Contact, and was founding director of KQED Center for Education & Lifelong Learning in San Francisco.  His 2010 book, Education Nation: Six Leading Edges of Innovation in our Schools, was named as one of the 10 best education books of the year by the American School Board Journal.

Dr. Chen is a former trustee of The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. In 2008, he  served as a member of the National Parks Second Century Commission. In 2010, U.S.  Interior Secretary Ken Salazar appointed him to the National Parks Advisory Board for the National Park Service, in recognition of his vision of national parks as key sites for place-based learning and to advance their work in science and technology as well as history and social studies education.
Throughout his career, Dr. Chen has worked to foster a conservation ethic in students by providing them with opportunities to be immersed in nature and visiting the places where history happened.

“We need to find ways for kids to learn and care about national parks,” he says, “and that happens through experience.”

Find out more about Salute to the Parks.

National Parks Conservation Association
National Parks Conservation Association

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