AORE Partner News May 2016 - Page 9

One activity that traditionally attracts all audiences is the BioBlitz. A BioBlitz is an intensive, hands-on activity where volunteer citizen scientists help experts to inventory species of plants and animals in a particular area. When parks provide directed activities like this, that are meaningful and fun, the participants are inspired to return on their own to enjoy the outdoors. BioBlitz activities provide an avenue for guided familiarity and a subsequent sense of personal ownership of parks. The week of May 16-22, 2016 was designated as a week for national parks across the country to engage citizen scientists in this species inventory. All events and data will be amassed, and snippets will be displayed live on large screens at the National Mall.

On a smaller scale later this summer, Mammoth Cave National Park (Kentucky) staff will use the same form of engagement as they hold their summer day camps. The day camps involve students on the National School Lunch Program and students that speak English as a second language. Day-campers are immersed in the park, its resources, and recreation. They learn and play.

They participate in cave sciences and exploration. Students learn so that they can understand and be more comfortable in the park. They will then be more connected with the park when they engage in recreational activities. They study the river, and then go paddling. They take forays into the deep-woods and history as they learn. Park staff strives to provide students with enjoyable experiences that allow them to fall in love with Mammoth Cave and the great outdoors.

Special needs children are the focus at Buffalo National River (Arkansas). This year the park held a brand new event at Tyler Bend, courtesy of an Active Trails Grant through the National Park Foundation. This park hosted a fun day for the Special Olympics, with events like bocce ball, disk golf, shot put, soft ball throw, standing long jump, as well as a fun, ranger-led scavenger hunt. Ranger Caven Clark said many local people are not aware that there is a nearby national park. To introduce and connect even more new audiences to Buffalo National River, park staff is teaming up with Arkansas’ Hometown Health Improvement Initiative to reach out to several local groups such as Young Moms - Healthy Families, library programs, and special services groups. (Continued on p. 10)