July 22, 2015
The National Park Service has kicked off a year-long celebration, building up to its 100th birthday in 2016. NPS is encouraging everyone to get out and #FindYourPark! (view the PSA below and additional videos on their YouTube Channel).
According to the NPS Centennial website:
Find Your Park is about more than just national parks! It’s about the National Park Service working in your community through education programs, community assistance projects, and more. It’s about state parks, local parks, trails, museums, historic sites, and the many ways that the American public can connect with history and culture, enjoy nature, and make new discoveries.
The Find Your Park program also has a full website that encourages everyone to find your park, share your park story through contests, and support your park. Many recognizable names are getting involved in the effort to celebrate the centennial.
— Ken Burns (@KenBurns) April 7, 2015
And there are plenty of parks to choose from! Last summer, this was one of the parks I found (you’ll see all of the National Parks that have social media accounts are using the hashtag #FindYourPark this year):
This summer, I feel really fortunate to have found three National Parks! Two of the parks are in a city I have visited, but never took the opportunity to spend time exploring these historic national parks. One was a natural national park that feels like an old friend. For the first park… who knew that New Orleans Jazz is an actual national park? We stopped by the French Market Visitor Center first, then caught a really great jazz concert at the second official site – the Old US Mint building. The next park in New Orleans we visited was one of the six sites that is part of Jean Lafitte, a fascinating exploration of the history, culture, and natural environment. My third park, Rocky Mountain National Park, is one of my favorites and probably the park where I have spent the most time visiting (besides Everglades National Park, one of the sites of my dissertation research). My goal was to get to the continental divide – which we did, along with other park visitors and the elk.
At this point, you may still be wondering… why do we need a campaign to encourage everyone to get out to all parks (including local ones)?
“When you ask the average American to name five national parks, they would all be in the West,” Jonathan Jarvis, director of the National Park Service, told Mashable. “The whole concept is to redefine the word ‘park.'”
So… you still have a few weeks this summer (and next year) to #FindYourPark! Which one will it be? Next on my wish list of national parks I have yet to visit… Dry Tortugas National Park!
Additional sources for exploration
Harris, R.L. (2015, May 28). How to get the most out of the National Parks this summer. New York Times – Travel (Article online)
Plautz, A. (2015, April 2). National Park Service wants to redefine the word ‘park’ for a new generation. Mashable.com (Article online)
Quintos, N. (2015, April 17) Why National Parks matter. National Geographic Traveler (Article online)