WASHINGTON – The National Park Foundation is excited to announce a lead grant for the collective effort to improve the visitor experience at Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, thanks to the generous support of The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. The more than $4.4 million grant will support renovation of the existing visitor center and outdoor area to create a welcoming and inclusive space to share culturally relevant content through exhibits and digital media in collaboration with Sitnasuak Native Corporation and affiliated tribes. This project will also create new and enhanced in-person and distance learning opportunities and strengthen relationships and engagement with Tribal communities.
“The National Park Foundation is grateful to the Helmsley Charitable Trust for its ongoing commitment to expanding the visitor experience,” said National Park Foundation President and CEO Will Shafroth. “The improved visitor center will share stories of the history and culture of Tribal communities of the Bering Straits Region whose knowledge of the land is as profound as the natural forces that shaped it.”
The grant builds on the support that the National Park Foundation and the Helmsley Charitable Trust have provided to enhance the visitor experience and expand educational opportunities through visitor center improvements at Badlands National Park and Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, representing a philanthropic investment of more than $12 million in all.
“Our national parks provide opportunities for people from around the world as well as right here in Alaska to engage with nature and understand important history, both natural and human,” said Walter Panzirer, a Helmsley Trustee. “Helmsley is proud to again support the National Park Foundation to help enhance the visitor experience at what is more than a national park, but a national treasure."
Specific to Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, located on the Seward Peninsula in the Bering Straits Region of northwest Alaska, the grant will fund new exhibits and a park film, enhance tribal engagement, and greatly increase in-person and distance education opportunities.
“Quyanaq, thank you, to the Helmsley Charitable Trust for the generous support for Bering Land Bridge National Preserve and Sitnasuak Native Corporation,“ said Jeanette Koelsch, Superintendent of Bering Land Bridge National Preserve. “This is a wonderful opportunity for tribes and the National Park Service to co-create the visitor experience.”
Bering Land Bridge National Preserve protects a small remnant of the land bridge that connected Asia and North America more than 10,000 years ago during the last Ice Age. The preserve offers unparalleled opportunities to experience vast arctic and coastal ecosystems, that are the homeland of the Inupiat.
About the National Park Foundation
The National Park Foundation works to protect wildlife and park lands, preserve history and culture, educate, and engage youth, and connect people everywhere to the wonder of parks. We do it in collaboration with the National Park Service, the park partner community, and with the generous support of donors, without whom our work would not be possible. Learn more at nationalparks.org.
About the Helmsley Charitable Trust
The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting exceptional efforts in the U.S. and around the world in health and select place-based initiatives. Since beginning active grantmaking in 2008, Helmsley has committed more than $3 billion for a wide range of charitable purposes. Learn more at helmsleytrust.org.