Retreats and Trips
Student committees work with Park Faculty Scholars and administrative staff to plan and organize class retreats and learning laboratories, or studies of current issues in their regional or national context. Each Park Scholar takes a leadership role in organizing one of these trips or other class activities during their time at the university.
Learning Laboratory I
Learning Laboratory I is an annual experience designed and implemented by Park Scholars in the freshman class. This educational program allows students to learn about leadership through the exploration of an issue facing the state of North Carolina. The Class of 2016 traveled to sites in Boone, Pittsboro, and Raleigh to study the theme of energy innovation in North Carolina. Students interacted with leaders across the state currently involved with developing conventional and alternative energy solutions.
Prior to departing on their trip, Park Scholars learned about fracking and grid modernization from leaders representing Duke Energy, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the North Carolina Mining and Energy Commission. While in Pittsboro, students met with individuals from Piedmont Biofuels to gain an understanding of how small renewable energy companies are impacting the state. During their time in Boone, the class learned about wind and solar energy production at Appalachian State University, and how nonprofit organizations such as the Appalachian Institute for Renewable Energy are helping community groups develop affordable, renewable energy systems.
Learning Laboratory II
The Learning Laboratory II field experience allows students to develop a critical understanding of national and global issues by interacting with leaders immersed in these issues. The Class of 2015 visited Washington, D.C. to explore the impact that an average citizen can have on policy-making decisions at the federal level. Through focusing on areas including the media, advocacy, and the legislative process, students gained a deeper understanding of how citizens can influence their government.
Park Scholars participated in conversations with individuals representing organizations and government entities such as the Center for Public Integrity, PolitiFact, the Supreme Court, and the United States Congress. The students learned about the roles of legislative staff and lobbyists, as well as how party politics impacts the workings of Congress. The class also gained insight into the power of money and the value of a single vote during political elections.
Prior to the start of the academic year, each new class of Park Scholars travels to the Blue Ridge Mountains to participate in their retreat. Park Faculty Scholars facilitate discussions on a shared reading experience. Upperclass Park Scholars work in small groups to prepare the class to take full advantage of the opportunities afforded by the Park program and NC State. The class also participates in challenges, both on the ground and on high ropes, which hone skills such as teamwork and communication.
The senior retreat is one of the culminating events during the final year of the Park Scholarships experience. Each year, the senior class of Park Scholars selects one of America’s national parks as the setting for their retreat. The experience provides class members with a unique opportunity to reflect on their time in the Park Scholarships program and at NC State, while establishing priorities for the future. Previous retreats have taken place at locations such as Grand Canyon National Park and Olympic National Park.