Park Receives Funds to Improve Junior Ranger Program
Contact: Kyle Patterson, 970-586-1363
Rocky Mountain National Park is pleased to announce that it has been selected to receive a 2007 Junior Ranger Ambassador grant to redesign its Junior Ranger program this summer. The grant is made possible through the generous support of the National Park Foundation and El Pomar Foundation.
The National Park Foundation was chartered by Congress in 1967 to continue a century-long tradition of private philanthropy to preserve and enhance the legacy of our National Parks. The National Park Foundation serves to strengthen the connection between the American people and their national parks by raising private funds, making strategic grants, creating innovative partnerships and increasing public awareness. The Colorado Springs based El Pomar Foundation was established in 1937 by Spencer and Julie Penrose to enhance, encourage and promote the current and future well being of the people of Colorado through grantmaking and community stewardship.
The Junior Ranger program, began in the National Park Service in the 1960s, helps children to explore the treasures of the national park system, allowing them to discover the significance of these special places and to understand the importance of protecting parks. In 2006, Junior Ranger programs were offered in 297 national parks to 383,639 children.
“It’s great to watch children be presented with a Junior Ranger badge at Rocky Mountain National Park. You can see the delight and pride in their faces,” said Park Superintendent Vaughn Baker. “Plus, these junior rangers will be the future supporters of national parks.”
Naomi Rennard, an intern with the Student Conservation Association (SCA) will work at Rocky Mountain this summer. She is a student at George Washington University in Washington DC and is majoring in International Studies. She has spent a great amount of time in the outdoors and is looking forward to the opportunity to improve the Junior Ranger program and see it reach more children. Naomi will create a new activity booklet for Rocky Mountain National Park's Junior Ranger program. The booklet will contain fun, educational activities that will include themes of ecosystems, history/culture, wildlife, geology, glaciers and plants as well as stewardship and understanding the national park system. The program will be designed for children ages 5-12 years and will be oriented toward self-guided activities that children can do on their own which will help them discover and understand the park.
At Rocky Mountain National Park, the very popular Junior Ranger program reaches nearly 15,000 children each year. The goals of the new program and activity booklet are to reach even more children and to increase the relevancy of National Parks and Rocky Mountain National Park to their own lives. While many children know significantly more about the natural world than they did even 10 years ago, much of their knowledge is based on learning from the internet and nature programs on television. Fostering stewardship values is best done through first-hand experiences in places like national parks where children can learn from the "classroom without walls."
Since 2005, the National Park Foundation has directed more than $2.5 million dollars in support of the Junior Ranger program. "We know how important it is that our children have a connection to America through our national parks," said National Park Foundation President and CEO, Vin Cipolla. "We are proud to support the Junior Ranger program as part of our nationwide effort to connect children to America's heritage so that they can develop the sense of pride and ownership necessary to be future stewards of these magnificent places."