National Park Foundation Presents 2010 'First Bloom' Youth Garden Design Winners

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC (June 9, 2010) – The National Park Foundation announced the winners of the 2010 First Bloom Youth Garden Design Contest today; Fort Smith National Historic Site, of Arkansas won first place.  The grand prize for the park’s First Bloom group will be an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, DC, where they will visit national parks including the National Mall, and the George Washington Memorial Parkway, which is also a First Bloom participating site.  Other winners will receive $500 grants to help continue their projects.

Those winners are:

Fort Smith National Historic Site, AR – First Place

Delaware Water Gap, PA – Second Place

Independence National Historic Park, PA - Third Place

Jean Lafitte National Park and Preserve, LA - Fourth Place

Fort Donelson National Battlefield, KY – Fifth Place

Visit www.first-bloom.org to View Gallery of All Contestants

“First Bloom is about sprouting passion and excitement for the national parks in our young people,” said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation.  “We received thousands of votes in this contest – and send our heartiest congratulations to all who participated.  We are particularly excited that the winning group has chosen Washington, DC for their grand prize trip, so we can meet them personally and show them some of America’s national parks in the nation’s capital.”

“The program is a wonderful opportunity for young people.  Through the hard work of our First Bloom group their garden design has provided a real draw for everyone who visits our park.  I am so happy that our group’s design was supported by so many people and that these youth are getting the chance to experience more national parks as a reward,” said Fort Smith National Historic Park Superintendent Bill Black.  “The park and our First Bloom youth reached out to local TV, radio and newspapers – and I bet them that I’d either kiss a pig or wear a dress if they won.  It looks like I’ll be wearing a dress tomorrow.  I’m very proud of our girls.”

The winning design featured three 40 foot long raised beds which are each surrounded by white picket fencing.   All cultivating and tilling will be done by hand, as it would have been done in the 1860’s.  The garden will contain plants that are native to Arkansas along with heirloom vegetables, herbs and flowers.  Youth from Girls Inc. of Fort Smith, which is the official youth partner of Fort Smith National Park for First Bloom, will assist in maintaining the garden year-round dressed in period clothing.

First Bloom gives 4th- 6th grade youth firsthand experience in national parks by partnering with local youth groups.  The program teaches important conservation lessons including the difference between native and invasive plant species.  First Bloom youth taking part in the garden design contest were encouraged to be creative in both their design, and the presentations of their designs.

The garden design contest is the culmination of a year of project work for the First Bloom students in partnership with their local national parks, where they have learned important lessons about stewardship and conservation.  The nationwide program is currently taking place in 26 national parks in partnership with 31 youth groups across the country.  

To learn more about the First Bloom program, or for information about how to participate in the next round of First Bloom projects, please visit www.first-bloom.org.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION

You are the part-owner of 84 million acres of the world’s most treasured landscapes, ecosystems, and historical 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.  We work hand in hand with the National Park Service to help connect you and all Americans to the parks, and to make sure that they are preserved for the generations who will follow.  Join us – This is Your Land.  www.nationalparks.org

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