Parks Offer Comfort
Thanks to a National Park Foundation America’s Best Idea grant, Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is able to connect children from military families with national parks through the Post to Parks program. As part of this program, Mile High Youth Corps participants (ages 18 – 24) are given the tools and training to mentor military teens (ages 13 – 17) about conservation ethic, careers in conservation, teambuilding, and more.
The teens and mentors then work together on projects in-park such as painting benches and building new walkways, and National Park Service Ranger Mike McClain went so far as to say that, “We couldn’t do what we do without them.” He explained that it would probably take the two or three rangers in the park nearly the entire summer to do what the Post to Parks participants can accomplish in the one week they’re in the park.
National Park Service Ranger Jeff Wolin added that children from military families may have to move around a lot, maybe attending more than five different schools growing up, and one of the thoughts behind Post to Parks is that national parks can be a place of consistency in their lives. A national park becomes a place they know and where they feel comfortable.