WASHINGTON – The National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, has awarded $640,022 in grants to 39 national parks through its America’s Best Idea program. Inspired by Ken Burns’ critically acclaimed documentary “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” this program builds partnerships between national parks and community, state, and other public organizations, and engages diverse audiences in meaningful and relevant ways with national parks and inspires participants to become stewards of our National Park System.
“The America’s Best Idea program connects people – particularly youth – to America’s national parks, often for the first time,” said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “Through meaningful and memorable in-park experiences that highlight the natural, cultural, and historical treasures in our National Park System, we are able to inspire the next generation of park-goers.”
“We want everyone to find themselves in a national park,” said Jonathan B. Jarvis, director of the National Park Service. “These National Park Foundation grants will help people acquire a better understanding of their national parks and, hopefully, of themselves, through place-based learning and recreational activities. Native Americans who will visit traditional homelands, budding scientists who will study environmental impacts, and students from Gallaudet University who will examine aspects of the Americans with Disabilities Act are among the many groups which will benefit from the grants.”
Programs made possible through the 2014 America’s Best Idea grants include:
Native American Youth Program at Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
This project is part of a wider collaboration among the Southern Paiute Nation, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and Dixie National Forest aimed at engaging Southern Paiute youth in learning cultural traditions, valuing the natural and cultural resources important to their heritage, connecting them to public lands within their traditional homeland in southern Utah and northern Arizona, and providing meaningful experiences that inspire youth to pursue advanced education and land management careers.
LEAF Project at Congaree National Park, South Carolina
Minority youth interns will help national park staff and partners from Old-Growth Bottomland Forest Research and Education Center and the Columbia Museum of Art engage over 1,100 local third grade students including many minority, low-income, and first-time visitors in an integrated art and science of soil program called the LEAF project (Linking Ecology and Art of Floodplains). Through this project, students will take part in hands-on learning about flooding, erosion, deposition, and more.
ADA Accessibility Project at Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove on the Potomac (George Washington Memorial Parkway), Washington, D.C.
Civil rights legislation like the Americans with Disabilities Act has had a profound impact on many people’s lives. In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act in July 2014, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove on the Potomac will work with deaf and hard of hearing students from Gallaudet University to create a civil rights themed digital media interpretive/educational tool for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Multi-generational Program at Virgin Islands National Park, Virgin Islands
“Passing the Torch - Student Ambassadors of Caribbean Culture” is designed to help elders pass on traditional knowledge about plants and trees to the younger generation. Elders will hold craft classes once a week for several months, and once the students become proficient in the crafts they will then participate in the cultural demonstrations that the park conducts at Annaberg Sugar Mill Ruins and at the Cinnamon Bay campground.
The National Park Foundation wishes to thank The Ahmanson Foundation, Chapman Hanson Foundation, the Fernandez Pave the Way Foundation, and Subaru for their generous support of the America’s Best Idea program.
The entire list of the 2014 America’s Best Idea grantees is as follows:
- Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area (KY, TN)
- Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site (KS)
- Bryce Canyon National Park (UT)
- Canyon de Chelly National Monument (AZ)
- Cape Cod National Seashore (MA)
- Cape Lookout National Seashore (NC)
- Congaree National Park (SC)
- Denali National Park & Preserve (AK)
- Everglades National Park (FL)
- Flagstaff Area National Monuments (AZ)
- George Washington Carver National Monument (MO)
- Glacier National Park (MT)
- Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (AZ, UT)
- Grand Teton National Park (WY)
- Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve (CO)
- Independence National Historical Park (PA)
- Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (MO)
- Jimmy Carter National Historic Site (GA)
- Katmai National Park and Preserve (AK)
- Kobuk Valley National Park (AK)
- Lincoln Home National Historic Site (IL)
- Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove on the Potomac (VA)
- Mississippi National River & Recreation Area (MN)
- Moores Creek National Battlefield (NC)
- Mount Rainier National Park (WA)
- National Capital Region (DC)
- Olympic National Park (WA)
- Point Reyes National Seashore (CA)
- President’s Park (White House) (DC)
- Prince William Forest Park (VA)
- Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park (CA)
- Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway (WI, MN)
- San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park (CA)
- Virgin Islands National Park (VI)
- Weir Farm National Historic Site (CT)
- Wilson's Creek National Battlefield (MO)
- Yellowstone National Park (ID, MT, WY)
- Yosemite National Park (CA)
- Zion National Park (UT)
A listing of these parks and their America’s Best Idea project descriptions can be found on the National Park Foundation website.
For more information on the National Park Foundation or how you can support and protect America’s national parks, please visit www.nationalparks.org. For more information about the National Park Service, please visit www.nps.gov.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at: www.nps.gov.
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. Find out more and become a part of the national park community at www.nationalparks.org.