We often hear from National Park Foundation supporters who are leading individual efforts to support our important mission. Recently, we were excited to hear from Melissa Antone and Matthew Jeffrey, both of whom found unique ways to raise awareness and donations to make a difference in America’s national parks.
Melissa Antone is part of an extraordinary team at The University of Phoenix who support the National Park Foundation’s Park Stewards program (the 2013 grantees were just announced today – read the exciting news here), but her love of the parks started at an early age. In fact, earlier this year Melissa ran her first marathon to raise money to support the places she treasures.
Here is her story:
When I was a child I often escaped for adventure in the woods behind my house. As I grew up, walking through the woods and enjoying the stillness and beauty became my escape, my counselor and my meditation.
When I moved away from New England, I discovered a new and diverse kind of beauty in the Southwest. Grand Canyon National Park was my first national park – and what a way to begin! Since that first experience I’ve visited 13 national parks, many multiple times. I’ve been to several other national monuments, national recreation areas and national historic sites.
Every time I visit a national park I’m inspired not only by the striking beauty of each place, but by the rich diversity of our nation’s landscapes and wildlife. It’s incredible to me that we have extremes like vast vibrant deserts and lush green rainforests, rugged shorelines and peaceful rivers. I learn something new every time I visit a park, whether it's about the geology of a park or its rich history as an important place in the story of humanity. Each park has something unique to offer.
I love all of the parks I've visited for different reasons, but if I had to choose a place to spend a year, it would be Olympic National Park - it has absolutely everything! Beautiful rugged shoreline, massive trees dripping with moss, aqua blue rivers and snowy peaks, majestic bald eagles, brown bears and migrating whales - I've never seen such diversity within such a close proximity. It's simply amazing.
I ran my first marathon on March 2, 2013 for parks. I ran to help preserve and protect them for my children, and their children, and their children's children. I ran for parks to spread awareness about national parks so everyone will come to love them as I do. I ran for parks because my experiences in national parks have brought such rich meaning and beauty to my life and I can't imagine life without them.
And here is Matthew Jeffrey’s incredible story:
Earlier this school year, a sixth grade class in Greenville, Mich. was assigned a service learning project where each student had to devise a plan to help solve a real world problem. Student Matthew Jeffrey chose to highlight the issue of endangered species, more than 400 of which are found in national parks across the country. As part of his project, Matthew educated others on the subject and raised money at his holiday parties to support the National Park Foundation. The funds raised in his effort will go to support our Impact Grants program which addresses critical needs, such as wildlife preservation, in national parks.
The National Park Foundation was thrilled to hear about Matthew’s hard work to help protect our national parks. His dedication is the perfect example of how park stewardship can begin at any age.
The National Park Foundation thanks Matthew and Melissa for their thoughtful support and for their stewardship of America’s national parks. Please share your story with us at [email protected]