The National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, announced today that Catoctin Mountain Park of Thurmont, Maryland won the 2011 “First Bloom” Youth Garden Design Contest. Catoctin Mountain Park partnered with the fourth grade students of Robert Moton Elementary School in Westminster, Maryland for their First Bloom program and together designed a native wildflower garden that was planted at the park’s visitor center on April 26.
“Outdoor learning experiences at Catoctin Mountain Park taught our students the importance of national parks, an appreciation of the environment and the value of helping others,” said Amanda Frushour, lead teacher from Robert Moton Elementary.
"The students are excited about the possibility of more national park visits and returning to Catoctin with their families and friends to see their garden bloom. Words cannot express our gratitude to the National Park Service, the National Park Foundation and ARAMARK.”
“First Bloom” is a National Park Foundation program that gives fourth through sixth grade youth firsthand experience in national parks, and teaches important conservation lessons including the difference between native and invasive plant species. The “First Bloom” Youth Garden Design Contest, sponsored by ARAMARK through the Yawkey Foundation, challenges First Bloom youth groups around the country to create the best garden design. From April 15 to May 16, 2011, the public was invited to vote on the garden designs. The contest received more than 7,300 votes this year, double the number of votes compared to last year.
The First Bloom group with the most votes wins a prize focused on increasing their connection with national parks. Catoctin Mountain Park and Robert Moton Elementary School are currently working with the National Park Foundation to design their prize. Last year’s winners visited national parks in Washington, D.C. and Shenandoah National Park.
“The First Bloom Youth Garden Design Contest is about cultivating enthusiasm and excitement for the national parks in our young people, and helping to create the next generation of park stewards,” said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation.
“We are hopeful that the garden design experience will engender a life-long commitment to conservation and a love for the outdoors.”
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 includes 24 national parks in partnership with 24 youth groups across the country. To view a gallery of the First Bloom garden designs and learn more about the First Bloom program, please visit www.first-bloom.org.
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. We work 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 us in supporting your national parks -- this is your land. www.nationalparks.org.
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Alanna Sobel, PR
202-354-6480, Alanna Sobel