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Contact: Jane Farmer, 662-680-4027
The Natchez Trace Parkway Celebrates NPS Centennial Accomplishments
As the National Park Service embarks on its second century of service, the Natchez Trace Parkway (Parkway) is celebrating the significant accomplishments of its centennial celebration and engagement with the Find Your Park / Encuentra Tu Parque initiative. Although the Parkway held many centennial events, two stand out as unique.
The Parkway’s National Park Week Wildlife Festival and BioBlitz was held on April 14-16, 2016. The event’s herpetology programs reached 438 students on the first two days. Saturday’s public day included a diversity of exhibits, activities, presentations, and guided walks that were enjoyed by over 500 visitors.
The successful outcome of the event was due to a combined partnership effort that included the Parkway’s Resource Management and Interpretation and Education divisions, support from the Maintenance and Law Enforcement divisions, and significant expertise contributions from the Mississippi State Forestry Extension Service and the Mississippi Geographic Alliance. Eastern National donations helped cover event expenses.
The goal of the Wildlife Festival and BioBlitz was to connect local communities to the biodiversity of the Parkway. Visitors enjoyed seven walks, including a night-time bat mist-netting event; three “Snakes of Mississippi” programs by herpetologist Terry Vandeventer; and 16 other exhibits and activities. Special Centennial Junior Ranger activities were designed for children. Parkway staff handed out 107 Centennial Junior Ranger books and 72 were returned that day.
Take home information and mementoes, including birdhouses and plaster tracks, encouraged learning, engagement, and stewardship of our natural resources beyond the event. Participants were also encouraged to continue to use their new knowledge and skills on future self-guided activities along the Parkway. Ultimately, the goal of this event contributed to the NPS Centennial goal of creating future stewards of our national parks.
Another special centennial event was held at the Parkway on Founders Day, August 25, 2016. The National Park Service and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service partnered to hold a Naturalization Ceremony for 15 new citizens to the United States. The event was hosted at the Parkway Visitor Center at milepost 266 just north of Tupelo, Mississippi. This was the first naturalization ceremony held at the Parkway.
Supervisory Immigration Services Officer Matthew Fenske presided over the ceremony. Videos of the National Anthem and a message from President Obama were presented. In keynote remarks, Parkway Superintendent Mary Risser welcomed the new citizens prior to them receiving their certificates of citizenship.
Families of the new citizens and many Parkway staff members attended the ceremony. All were deeply touched to watch the new citizens take the Oath of Allegiance and make their pledge to the flag.
Across the country, centennial programs resulted in a significant level of public interest and social media engagement with the National Park Service and National Park Foundation. The NPS, NPF, and partners across nationwide reached hundreds of millions of people with the centennial’s Find Your Park message and engaged the public in the NPS stewardship mission.
The Find Your Park campaign has resonated particularly well with younger audiences, which NPS and NPF targeted since they will be the next generation of national park visitors and stewards. Millennials are increasingly familiar with the Find Your Park campaign, and NPS youth programs were a key component of NPS and NPF centennial engagement.
“I like to say the NPS is the only federal agency with a mandate to ensure the public has fun, and the centennial has been a lot of fun,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “But more importantly, it has inspired and engaged a new generation to take on the mantle of responsibility for the most important places and stories that define us as citizens of the United States of America.”
The Natchez Trace Parkway has plans for public programs on most weekends throughout 2017. Programs are listed on the Parkway’s webpage calendar www.nps.gov/natr. For additional information, call 1-800-305-7417.
About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 413 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.