December is a month of reflection and gratitude over the past year. At the National Park Foundation, we take time to celebrate all the programs and projects that we were able to support in service of the National Park Service, through the support of park partners, and most importantly, the community of park champions. Thank you for another incredible year! We hope you enjoy our 2019 year in review.
Entrusted with the role of national park steward, the National Park Service safeguards bountiful natural and cultural resources for the public’s enjoyment, and the park partner community faithfully supports NPS in their mission. In 2019, we celebrated the acquisition of the Bald Mountain Ridge, encompassing 1,500 acres of late successional forest in Maine that will now be managed by the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. As a result, scenic and unobstructed views of Bald Mountain from the Appalachian Trail will be left wild and unspoiled. Hikers, paddlers, hunters, anglers, and other outdoor recreation enthusiasts will experience improved public access to Bald Mountain Pond and Ossie Pond that contain native, wild eastern brook trout. The mountain and water features make this property an iconic destination for backcountry adventures. Similar conservation feats can require a multi-group effort, and partners on this project included the Trust for Public Land, Land and Water Conservation Fund, Elliotsville Foundation, National Park Trust, State of Maine, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bingham Wind, and Weyerhaeuser.
Preserved African American History and Culture
In 2019, we joined the National Park Service in commemorating 400 Years of African American History and Culture.
This year, the National Park System welcomed a touchstone of our nation’s history – the home where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King raised their family. With the help of private philanthropy, NPF facilitated the sale and transfer of this iconic civil rights site to the National Park Service. The addition of the historic home enables the National Park Service to tell a more complete story about the King family’s experiences and incredible contributions during the civil rights movement and beyond.
NPF is also helping to restore another important landmark: the home of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, known as the “Father of African American History.” Dr. Woodson established what is celebrated today as Black History Month and his home served as headquarters for the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. Visitors can walk through Dr. Woodson’s office and library, used as makeshift archives for preserving rare artifacts, collections, and manuscripts documenting the African American and African Diaspora experience. These types of artifacts will be featured in the newly renovated home. By visiting these sites, current and future generations will be able to experience some of America's most impactful cultural treasures and learn about a more inclusive American history.
Established Strong Partnerships
If outdoor living, hands-on work, and engagement in meaningful service at national parks has ever piqued your curiosity, you may be interested in the numerous organizations that engage young adults in service corps programming.
In 2019, NPF supported service corps across the country. These teams of diverse youth learn technical and leadership skills while tackling a variety of conservation and maintenance projects in national parks. Service corps projects may include trail and fence maintenance, habitat and stream restoration, invasive species removal, and the construction and rehabilitation of public facilities and historic structures.
In the summer of 2019, a team of service corps members lent their time and expertise to projects at Grand Portage National Monument. They helped to construct a bat condo, which was important for the preservation of this important species, as well as rehabilitating trails, constructing steps, monitoring wildlife, and more.
Strong Parks, Strong Communities
This year, NPF sought innovative partnerships that strengthen the park partner community to better serve the National Park Service. We partnered with Conservation Legacy’s Stewards program to place AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America (VISTAs) at 20 NPS partner organizations throughout the United States. The AmeriCorps VISTA members provide additional capacity at the ground level, supporting an array of initiatives based on the host’s organizational needs. For instance, the VISTA member at Voyageurs National Park Association focused on developing a joint volunteer program to help expand community engagement and environmental stewardship activities, serving low-income youth and underserved communities, and innovating educational programming.
Engaged Youth in Parks
Open OutDoors for Kids
National parks serve as some of our nation’s most dynamic classrooms. Imagine a history lesson on the Reconstruction Era brought to life in front of students’ eyes as they touch replicas of historical artifacts, witness living history demonstrations, and study catalogs of historic maps – all where the history they’re studying took place! These are just a few examples of activities students who visit New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park experience through our Open Outdoors for Kids program.
Since 2015, Open Outdoors for Kids has enabled nearly one million students to visit a local park by funding field trips to public lands. Field trip grants provide financial support for transportation, entry, and programming to students, particularly from Title I schools, to ensure that underserved youth are afforded experiences in nature. At the park, students participate in ranger-led activities that complement classroom curriculum and deepen their understanding of the natural, cultural, and historical heritage of the site.
Citizen Science 2.0
Citizen Science 2.0 rang in its third year of connecting high schoolers to outdoor science learning experiences in 2019. The Citizen Science 2.0, which turns nature into a classroom for water and watershed education, expanded its reach of students served by engaging over 3,500 students from 36 schools and adding two new program sites. Citizen Science 2.0 projects range from reintroducing endangered organisms, to testing water quality in rivers and tributaries, to measuring cacti and other vegetation, and observing the role of organisms within an ecosystem. Exposing youth to scientific research in their local environment allows them to form a unique connection with the natural world and foster an interest to becoming environmental stewards.
The success of all NPF programs and projects takes a whole village of partners, teachers, national park staff, and donors like you to succeed. Thank you for the support you provide. Because of you, a new generation of people were able to visit a local park, make a meaningful connection, and begin a lifelong relationship with national parks.
We extend a very special thank you to the community of park partners who remind us that parks are stronger when we work together. We are excited to embark on another year of support for the National Park Service and hope you will continue to support important initiatives like these so that our treasured lands and waters can flourish for years to come.