Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Awarded America Best Idea Grant

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Date: June 16, 2011

Empire, MI - The National Park Foundation (NPF) has announced that it is proud to award Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore) a grant to support the launch of the Traditional Skills and Trades Mentor/Apprentice Project. This new and innovative project will pair SEEDS/Northwest Michigan Youth Corps members with professionals skilled in traditional and historic trades as apprentices to pass down these skills to the next generation. The grant is part of the NPF's America's Best Idea; a nationwide program which connects underserved and under-engaged populations throughout the United States with their national parks in innovative and meaningful ways.
"It is an honor to receive this grant because it will assist the park and the National Park Service in preserving traditional trades through video documentation and apprenticeship training," said Tom Ulrich, Deputy Superintendent of the National Lakeshore. "With this project, we will expand the park's current partnership with SEEDS/Northwest Michigan Youth Corps to connect at-risk and adjudicated middle school and high school students with traditional artists and trades people who participate in the park's annual Port Oneida Rural Historic District Fair."

The project will engage many of the Fair's traditional demonstrators/mentors with the youth who participate in the SEEDS summer youth camps, thus bringing park resources to more youth through an established educational venue. The project will continue with SEEDS facilitating the mentors' participation in their after-school and summer camp programs during the 2011-2012 school year as a continuation of the teaching/learning relationships started in the initial steps of the project. The project will engage the youth apprentices in learning about the traditions and resources that shaped the people and land who lived in what are now park lands. Understanding of those connections will develop the youth's sense of place and their own personal relationship with the place with its resulting stewardship of the resources.

"We must create opportunities for all Americans to have access to and enjoy their national parks," said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO of the NPF. "With these grants, we're connecting more and more people to the parks, while building and strengthening long-lasting support, appreciation and commitment to protecting America's Best Idea."

Inspired by the epic Ken Burns documentary The National Parks: America's Best Idea, the NPF, in partnership with Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation, the Anschutz Foundation and the Ahmanson Foundation, awarded America's Best Idea grants to 19 national parks across the country.

A full list of grantees and project descriptions is available on the NPF website.
Sleeping Bear Dunes was created to preserve the outstanding natural features of this area, including 71,000 acres of dunes, beaches, forests, inland lakes and rivers, and glacial phenomena. It also preserves cultural resources that reflect Great Lakes maritime and Michigan agricultural history.

About the National Park Foundation: You are the owner of 84 million acres of the world's most treasured landscapes, ecosystems, and historic sites-all protected in America's nearly 400 national parks. Chartered by Congress, the National Park Foundation is the official charity of America's national parks. NPF works hand in hand with the National Park Service to connect you and all Americans to the parks, and to make sure that they are preserved for the generations who will follow.  
Join NPF - This is Your Land.
For further information, you may contact the park Historical Architect, Kimberly Mann, at (231) 326-5134, ext. 501, or by email at

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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