Have you ever hiked through Palo Duro Canyon or around Possum Kingdom, swam at Blanco State Park, visited the "Big Tree" on Goose Island, or gotten your SCUBA certification at Balmorhea? Then you owe some thanks to the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which constructed and developed the first state parks in Texas. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department recently launched "A New Deal for Texas Parks," an online exhibition and education center exploring the history and legacy of the CCC in Texas.

The project is the first recipient of Humanities Texas's Linden Heck Howell Texas History Grant, which supports the development of K–12 instructional materials focusing on Texas history. The grant was established in memory of Ms. Howell, former member and chair of the Humanities Texas Board of Directors, as a lasting tribute to her service to the organization and her commitment to the study of Texas history.

"A New Deal for Texas Parks" is designed as a virtual scrapbook. Teachers and students can "flip through" pages chronicling the CCC's history in Texas. The exhibition overflows with primary sources, including numerous Depression-era photos and cartoons, not to mention letters, posters, maps, songs, oral histories, and even videos.

Humanities Texas was impressed with the proposal for this project and is even more impressed with the results. When reviewing the project, Humanities Texas consulted history teachers who teach about the CCC in their classrooms. Many teachers supported development of the online exhibition because there are few resources available for teaching this chapter of state and national history. "A New Deal for Texas Parks" provides an in-depth resource that is widely accessible to students and teachers. The scrapbook also offers student-friendly options, such as the "My Keepsake" feature that guides students through each chapter of the book.

"The fact that it was truly a statewide project and relates to so many sites throughout the state" was also very appealing to Humanities Texas, said Executive Director Michael L. Gillette. Because the project addresses parks around the state—rather than, say, in one particular region—it allows students throughout Texas the opportunity to connect familiar local landmarks with larger developments in Texas and U.S. history. Students may also learn about important sites that they weren't aware of in other parts of the state.

The project is aimed at seventh-grade students and their teachers but is of interest to anyone who wants to learn more about the CCC’s contributions to Texas parks. As the scrapbook says: "Discover your Texas parks today!"

The entrance to the "A New Deal for Texas Parks" interactive exhibition. Go to the site, and click on the image to enter the exhibition. Photo courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.