Willow Bend Environmental Education Center and Flagstaff Area National Monuments Receive 2013 America's Best Idea Grant From the National Park Foundation

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Date: April 23, 2013
Contact: Cecilia Shields, 928-526-1157 x228
Contact: Russell Tweed, 928-779-1745
Contact: Alanna Sobel, 202-354-6486

Flagstaff, AZ, April 23, 2013 - Willow Bend Environmental Education Center and the Flagstaff Area National Monuments - Sunset Crater Volcano, Walnut Canyon, and Wupatki - are one of 34 recipients 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.

Through their partnership, Willow Bend Environmental Education Center and the Flagstaff Area National Monuments will bring environmental education into the classroom and children into our local National Monuments to provide an understanding of past and present sustainable practices. The project team will work with teachers to develop resources and training through the Teacher-Ranger-Teacher program and will also include family learning activities. Teachers interested in learning more about participating in this project should contact Willow Bend Environmental Education Center at 928-779-1745.

Willow Bend's Project Manager, Cassandra Roberts, explained that, "past cultures lived sustainably using the natural landscapes for thousands of years. Their departure from this area may have been influenced by changing weather patterns and drought. Environmental concerns today are causing humans to look at how they can live more sustainably as well."

"Having recently achieved Climate Friendly Park status, the Flagstaff Area National Monuments are eager to share with our community and visitors our commitment to environmental protection and preservation through education. This project is one step forward on our goal of educating 90,000 visitors about climate change and sustainability practices by 2016", said Sara Feldt, Education Technician for the Flagstaff Area Monuments.

"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."

The National Park Foundation wishes to thank L.L. Bean, the Anschutz Family Foundation, and The Ahmanson Foundation for their generous support of the America's Best Idea program.

For more information on the National Park Foundation or how you can support and protect America's national parks, please visit www.nationalparks.org. For more information about the National Park Service, please visit www.nps.gov.

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. Wupatki, Sunset Crater Volcano, and Walnut Canyon National Monuments are managed collectively as the Flagstaff Area National Monuments. Together, they protect more than 40,000 acres and 3,000 archeological sites, in a landscape of expansive high deserts, canyons, mountains, mesas, and volcanic features. For information on the Flagstaff Area Monuments, check our websites at www.nps.gov/sucr, www.nps.gov/waca, www.nps.gov/wupa, www.nps.gov.

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. www.nationalparks.org.

Willow Bend Environmental Education Center, founded by the Coconino Natural Resource Conservation District, is a resource for learning about stewardship of our natural resources through K-12 education programs, family science events, adult education series, and community events. Visit willowbendcenter.org to learn more about their energy neutral building and habitat-friendly native landscaping.

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Last updated: February 24, 2015

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