WASHINGTON – Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation (NPF), the official nonprofit partner to the National Park Service (NPS), issued the following statement regarding his testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on National Parks highlighting NPF’s work to engage new audiences, enhance the visitor experience, and provide ongoing support for various NPS projects and programs:
“The National Park Foundation understands the importance of ensuring that the next generation experiences the wonder of our national parks. This idea has been core to our mission for our nearly 50 years of existence and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to highlight our efforts to inspire the next generation of national park visitors at today’s hearing.
Through Find Your Park/Encuentra Tu Parque and now Parks 101 public education and engagement campaigns, we are working in partnership with the National Park Service to inspire all Americans to visit, love, and support our parks. While these campaigns are inclusive of all people, our emphasis on the millennial generation encourages younger and more diverse audiences to connect with our national parks and build lifelong relationships with these incredible places.
The steady increase in visitation to our parks the past three years – to a record 331 million in 2016 – indicates that our collective efforts are working.
The National Park Foundation is also proud of our work to capitalize on increased philanthropic enthusiasm for our parks by raising private support for key programs and projects across the National Park System. Launched in February 2016 with an initial goal of $350 million, the Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks has raised $429 million to date.
We’ve invested tremendous philanthropic support in projects and programs that improve the visitor experience, including the rehabilitation and repair of trails and facilities, protecting and restoring wildlife habitat, and supporting the work of youth and veterans corps to enhance our parks.
The National Park Foundation has also been a longtime supporter of efforts to connect young people to our nation’s public lands and waters. In support of the Every Kid in a Park program, specifically, NPF has provided $5.5 million in grants to provide transportation for more than 500,000 4th graders from Title I and other underserved schools around the country to access national parks and other public lands. Such programs introduce young people, many for the first time, to the incredible places in their own backyards.
Through these efforts and more, the National Park Foundation has made significant investments to inspire the next generation of national park visitors. We thank the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on National Parks for the opportunity to share these accomplishments at today’s hearing, and look forward to our continued efforts to build the next generation of national park stewards.”
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION
The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service. Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help PROTECT more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts, CONNECT all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history, and INSPIRE the next generation of park stewards. In 2016, commemorating the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary, the Foundation launched The Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks, a comprehensive fundraising campaign to strengthen and enhance the future of these national treasures for the next hundred years. Find out more and become a part of the national park community at www.nationalparks.org.