On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Organic Act, creating the National Park Service. In 2008, as part of Founder’s Day, The KidsZone, a special feature for children, was launched on NPS.gov. Following the KidsZone link from the NPS homepage takes children to the site, which includes WebRangers, in-park Junior Ranger programs, and Park Fun and Activities. Children will also find feature stories about working dogs of the National Park Service and stories written by children whose parents work in parks. The KidsZone will provide a child-friendly Web presence for future generations of park stewards.
The new site continues to support the National Park Week theme, for 2008: “Kids in Parks.” The KidsZone offers children an opportunity to explore, learn about, and protect their national parks. There is a link to WebRangers, where children can register and participate in over 50 interactivities about their national parks. The WebRangers’ Community invites children to post and share their park stories and pictures with others around the world in a moderated, Web-safe environment. Currently there are more than 49,000 WebRangers, more than 1,600 of whom have received patches for completing all of the activities.
The KidsZone also includes an introduction to the 325 in-park Junior Ranger programs that children complete while traveling around the country. In fact, several children have participated in more than 100 in-park programs. Each Junior Ranger program is unique and provides rewards of certificates, badges and patches.
The Park Fun and Activities section provides myriad opportunities for children to enjoy additional on-line experiences.
The new site includes two new story features, “Working Dogs of the NPS” and “Park Kids.” Here children can read about Mitsy, a nine-year-old Border Collie who works at the Statue of Liberty National Monument and the . Her job is to chase Canada Geese away so they don’t leave their droppings all over the parks. Visitors to The KidsZone can also read about Sol Martinez, a 15 year-old who lives in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve with his parents. Sol’s dad, Gus Martinez, is the District Ranger for the Bay District, and his mom Sylvia is the Librarian for the city of Gustavus. In his neighborhood there are no other kids living on his street and only seven people who live there year round. Other kids and their families live in Gustavus, Alaska which is nine miles away.
By making www.nps.gov more kid friendly, the National Park Service intends to share the wonders of national parks with the children that own them, so that as they grow, their national parks become a part of their everyday experience and they become the future stewards of the national park system.
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