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Contact: Len Bobinchock, 207-288-8701
(Bar Harbor, Maine) – Youth and families are the focus of an exciting new initiative at Acadia National Park. The Engage Youth Centennial Challenge project will enhance and expand park opportunities for youth of all ages through a number of diverse components, including technology innovations, curriculum-based education, ranger-guided activities, secondary and undergraduate student internships and employment, and special events.
“We are thrilled to receive funds for this Centennial Challenge project,” said Superintendent Sheridan Steele. “The Engage Youth project will allow the park to expand its well-established programs for children into a coordinated offering of programs and opportunities that will advance our efforts to reconnect children with nature.”
National Park Service Director Mary A. Bomar said, “With the nearly $25 million Congress has appropriated and nearly $27 million of matching commitments from our park partners, the Centennial Initiative today moves onto the landscape and into people’s lives. It’s a great day for the National Park Service and a great day for youth and families at Acadia National Park.”
The National Park Centennial Initiative is a 10-year program to reinvigorate America’s national parks and prepare them for a second century. The initiative includes a focus on increased funding for park operations plus a President’s Challenge: up to $100 million a year in federal funds to match $100 million a year in philanthropic donations to the National Park Service.
“This is how we put our Centennial goals on the ground and it’s quite a beginning,” Bomar said. “We have 110 programs and projects involving more than 130 individual, public and non-profit partners benefiting 76 national parks in 38 states and the District of Columbia.”
Acadia National Park received $181,000 for the Engage Youth project, plus $181,640 in matching funds. These funds will be used to provide teaching assistants, scholarships, and a state-of-the-art computer lab for the Schoodic Education Adventure, the park’s curriculum-based, residential program for grades 4–8; offer stipends to teachers attending teacher workshops; fund transportation costs for schools to come to the park for ranger programs; develop multimedia content for the park website; and more.
Park partners, including Friends of Acadia, Acadia Partners for Science and Learning, and Eastern National, provided the matching funds that enabled the park to compete for Centennial Challenge funding. Their funds are bringing new programming to Maine schools, enriching teacher experiences, and providing more opportunities for young people to visit and learn from the park.
“We applaud Congress for recognizing the need to increase federal funding for the National Park Service as it prepares for its centennial,” said Friends of Acadia President Marla O’Byrne. “Acadia’s Engage Youth project will help prepare the next generation of park visitors and stewards that will care for Acadia and other national parks in the future. Friends of Acadia is pleased to support and partner with the park on these important efforts.”
“Eastern National is proud to work with Acadia National Park on this innovative project,” said CEO/President George Minnucci. “It will provide opportunities for children of all ages to experience the park and build connections with our natural resources.”
The park also received $3,500 as part of a nine-park Centennial Challenge project (Creating Stewardship through Discovery) to conduct biological inventories in the parks. This funding will allow the National Park Service to share results of ongoing biodiversity surveys at Acadia National Park (BioBlitzes) through the creation of an expanded presence on the park's website. Matching funds were provided by Acadia Partners for Science and Learning.
“Acadia Partners is pleased to support both of Acadia’s Centennial Challenge projects,” said Executive Director Denny O’Brien. “We share the common goal of engaging young people and adults in our natural world. By working together, we can reach more future stewards through a variety of innovative programs.”
Director Bomar said, “We really have to get cracking. Many of our parks have a short construction season for the brick and mortar and trail projects and our rangers will need to quickly integrate new programs for the rush of summer visitors who arrive in a few short months.”
The National Park Centennial Initiative provides a framework for the National Park Service to engage the public in its mission. Its goals and strategies will embrace new constituents and gain support from a broad array of public and private partners to ensure America’s national parks continue to thrive into the next 100 years.
For a complete list of the 2008 National Park Service Centennial Challenge projects and programs please visit www.nps.gov/2016.