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The annual Earth Day event, the summer Lecture Series, Pueblo dancers, and Junior Ranger camps are just a handful of the many things funded by Western National Parks Association (WNPA), the bookstore located in Aztec Ruins Visitor Center. Visitors who peruse the shelves might not realize the extent to which their purchases support our park activities. A portion of all book sales in the non-profit organization's stores go right back to the park, and other profits are used for research and publications.
Founded in 1938 as Southwest Monuments Association (SPMA), the organization's mission has always been to "promote preservation of the national park system and its resources by creating greater public appreciation through education, interpretation, and research." Today WNPA operates 66 independent stores as unique as the parks themselves.
Stores provide informative literature and educational products and offer merchandise that is thematic to each park and its mission. Says WNPA Chief Operations Officer Scott Aldridge, who has served the organization for 12 years, "I am proudest of the unique way WNPA facilitates connecting people to national parks. Each WNPA national park store fills its own niche with history, culture, science, and more. These vital connections reinforce the fact that national parks represent our shared heritage and help define us as Americans."
Dr. Carla Van West, who has served on the SPMA/WNPA Board of Directors since 1995, says of her commitment to the organization, "It has always been gratifying to know that every Board member takes his or her responsibilities to heart and gives so much time, energy, and thought to the Association so that WNPA can fulfill its vital missions. With collaboration among the Board, Staff, and its NPS partners, WNPA will continue to anticipate and provide the much needed financial and educational resources that are beyond what the NPS operating budget can provide. It is a partnership that will continue to evolve but is solidly steeped in tradition and mutual respect."
Here at Aztec Ruins, WNPA has funded several important projects such as valuable ceramics research conducted by park archeologist Lori Reed. Says Reed, "Although there have been extensive excavations at Aztec Ruins over the past century, most of the artifacts were only briefly described. Funding from WNPA has been critical in photographing, documenting, and better understanding the pottery and perishable artifacts such as basketry and textiles. There still remains a great deal of work to do, but WNPA has helped us significantly to get started."
We are especially proud of the great selection of historical, cultural, scientific, and children's literature we have at Aztec Ruins and the role WNPA plays in education and the preservation of our public lands for future generations.