AORE Partner News May 2016 - Page 12

(NPS Centennial, Continued)

Many national parks develop connections with younger local children by first visiting the students in their own settings. At Congaree National Park (South Carolina) volunteers and rangers visit libraries and read to children to establish a relationship with the children and ignite their interest in the park. In another program, LEAF (Linking Ecology and Art of Floodplains), third graders visit the park to connect what they have learned about the science and art of the Congaree Swamp floodplain. This park also reaches out to college age students with their Alternative Spring Break.

College students give up their spring break to volunteer for Congaree. They make repairs, clean, and even prepare areas for prescribed burning. Their thank you gift is a day long trip on the Cedar Creek canoe trail. Local volunteers from both high schools and colleges help yearlong with their canoe program.

National Park Service partners are also actively participating in the centennial celebration and outreach. The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor (southeastern coastal states) hosted an event that combined partnerships. The National Park Service and the East Coast Greenway Alliance engaged cycling college students through BRAG Dream Team, and Spoke’n Revolution. Twenty-three youth and 10 adults rode 550 miles, camping and enjoying the landscape along the way. However this bike tour also embraced a more serious element, as it familiarized the students with this southern area that was reshaped by the descendants of enslaved Africans.

Find Your Park is a component of the National Park Service Centennial celebration that encourages everyone to find their park in a different place and in a different way. This of course includes parks of all types from urban to wilderness. One such program, planned for autumn of 2016, introduces urban students to outdoor recreation through progressive camping. Urban students take part in a series of three camping events which move the participants from a familiar, controlled environment to a less familiar, less controlled environment. The first campout will be inside of the Jacksonville, Florida zoo. The second campout will be inside Fort Caroline National Memorial, and the third will be at Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park, a relatively unstructured public beach, exposing the students to the vastness of the open ocean and its magnificent night sky.

The City of Rocks National Reserve (Idaho) has crafted a partnered centennial event for May 17 that will appeal to every kid in their park. Latinos make up half the local rural population of fourth graders whose families do not regularly frequent parks. Through the Every Kid in a Park program, these students will travel to the park and have fun at seven stations. There is a climbing station for the adventurous. Kids interested in animals will have fun at an interactive animal skin and antler station, as well as learn about the problem of poaching at the Idaho Fish and Game traveling taxidermy unit. The students will take a nature hike, do hands-on geology, and learn about stewardship with Leave No Trace. As a take-home souvenir, each student will paint on a juniper dowel, honed from park deadfall collected by resource managers.

These are but a sampling of the nearly 2000 events, both large and small, that are being held in honor of the National Park Service’s 100th birthday across the country.