AORE Partner News Summer 2016 - Page 7

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OAK members are helping to realize this bold vision by providing resources, hosting events and activities, and raising awareness of the initiative to reach tens of thousands of fourth graders this year alone.

We’re also helping to celebrate a big birthday this year (not just my son’s), the Centennial of our National Parks. Over the last 100 years, our park system has grown from one park, Yellowstone, to just over 400 (and counting) park units including monuments and historic sites. After we blow out the candles to honor this important milestone in conservation and recreation, we’ll be looking ahead to the next 100 years. We believe that our parks and public lands should have the resources they need to operate, complete the growing backlog of maintenance projects, and provide quality programming that engages kids and communities with the natural world. We also believe that America’s network of protected public areas can and must do a better job of welcoming and valuing the participation of an increasingly diverse generation of kids and families in our parks and public lands.

To honor the Centennial of the National Park Service, my family will be visiting as many parks as we can. From Rock Creek National Park in the heart of Washington, DC, to Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy nature can be found both near and far. I encourage you to think about how you will touch a child’s life during this Centennial year and beyond. And in case you need some inspiration, let me share these wise words from Rachel Carson: “If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.” So please, get outdoors this summer and then join OAK to help reverse the growing divide between kids and nature.