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Contact: Alanna Sobel, National Park Foundation, 202-354-6486
Contact: Kevin Bacher, Mount Rainier National Park, 360-569-6567
Contact: Jay Satz, Student Conservation Association, 206-550-5977
Mount Rainier is one of 34 national parks across the country selected to receive a 2013 America's Best Idea grant from the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America's national parks. Inspired by the critically acclaimed Ken Burns documentary "The National Parks: America's Best Idea," the America's Best Idea program funds park activities designed to connect diverse, underserved and under-engaged populations throughout the United States with their national parks in innovative and meaningful ways.
"One of the great things about our national parks is that every American can relate to these treasured places if given the chance to experience them," said Jonathan B. Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service. "It's our mission to engage visitors from all backgrounds in the diverse stories that we tell in our national parks. Thanks to the support of the National Park Foundation, we can propel that outreach, and engage new audiences that would otherwise never have the opportunity to experience a national park."
"The America's Best Idea program gives people – particularly youth – incredible opportunities to connect to our national parks through unique and innovative ways," said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation. "From experiences that center on history, the environment and even adventure, we are able to capture the imagination of a new generation of park-goers in ways that benefit their lives and the future of the parks."
At Mount Rainier, the America's Best Idea grant supports a long standing and growing partnership between the National Park Service and the Student Conservation Association (SCA). "SCA's mission is to build the next generation of conservation stewards, by connecting them to our parks and forests through the action of conservation service," said Jay A. Satz, SCA's Regional Vice President.
"We are fortunate here at Mount Rainier to work with SCA's Community Conservation Program, which engages high school students in Seattle during the school year, and then brings them to Mount Rainier to serve with 15-day trail crews during the summer," said Kevin Bacher, Mount Rainier's Volunteer Program Manager. "SCA's outreach to members of military families at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, through a program called 'Base to Base Camp,' has resulted in almost half of this year's crew members coming from JBLM. And we've worked with SCA For decades to provide interns who support park staff in critical roles, learning skills, doing important work, and serving the public. Through our partnership with SCA this summer, 37 young people will contribute more than 9,000 hours of conservation service at Mount Rainier while having an extraordinary national park experience."
Funding from the National Park Foundation supports the crew leaders for three eight-person trail maintenance teams, each made up of Community Program members from Seattle and Base-to-Base Camp youth from JBLM. The first crew is in the field now, and the second and third will be in the park later this month and next. Additional funding for the program comes from the National Park Service's Youth Partnerships Program and Washington's National Park Fund.
"We are pleased to work with SCA's Community Crews again this year, and especially pleased to welcome members of our military families at Joint Base Lewis-McChord," said Randy King, Superintendent of Mount Rainier National Park. "These grants allow us to reach out to the conservation leaders of tomorrow and offer them a great experience in their national parks, as well as stepping stones toward possible future careers. We look forward to working with these young men and women for many years to come."
For a full listing of participating parks and program descriptions, please visit the National Park Foundation website.
About the National Park Service
More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov and www.nps.gov/mora.
About the National Park Foundation
The National Park Foundation, the official charity of America's national parks, raises private funds that directly aid, support and enrich America's more than 400 national parks and their programs. Chartered by Congress as the nonprofit partner of the National Park Service, the National Park Foundation plays a critical role in conservation and preservation efforts, establishing national parks as powerful learning environments, and giving all audiences an equal and abundant opportunity to experience, enjoy and support America's treasured places. For more information on the National Park Foundation or how you can support and protect America's national parks, please visit www.nationalparks.org. Follow them on Facebook at facebook.com/nationalpark and on Twitter at twitter.com/goparks.
About the Student Conservation Association
The Student Conservation Association (SCA) is a nationwide conservation force of college and high school volunteers who protect and restore America's parks, forests, and other public lands. For more than 50 years, SCA's active, hands-on approach to conservation has helped to develop a new generation of conservation leaders, inspire lifelong stewardship, and save our planet. For more information, visit www.thesca.org.
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