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"The Centennial ... is all about children and creating the opportunity for today's youth to experience the parks."
Lindi L. Harvey, National Park Service Deputy Director, spoke to the April 2008 Recreation Exchange. Deputy Director Harvey focused her remarks on the National Park Service Centennial Initiative and her agency's efforts to reconnect today's youth to the parks. Ms. Harvey applauded the Recreation Exchange participants' partnerships with the National Park Service and called on the group to further lend their expertise in moving forward the Centennial legislation and supporting youth-outreach projects.
Deputy Director Harvey explained that the President's Centennial Challenge Fund proposal would create mandatory funding of $100 million annually for park projects and programs for 10 years. This federal funding would then be matched by $100 million in non-federal funding, especially from foundations, corporations and other private entities, she said. Ms. Harvey explained that Congress appropriated $24.6 million for the Centennial Challenge Fund in 2008, funding 110 projects, which, with matching funds, received a total of $52 million. "The National Park Service is working to create sound practices to ensure continued funding through 2016 for the Centennial," she stated. Ms. Harvey introduced Frank Dean, senior superintendent of Saratoga National Historical Park and executive director of Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, as the new chief of the Centennial Coordination and Planning Office in Washington.
Ms. Harvey told the audience, "The Centennial creates an opportunity for the parks to revisit who, what and where we want to be," adding, "it is all about children and creating the opportunity for today's youth to experience the parks." Ms. Harvey noted the constraints on the American family's ability to carve out time together. The National Park Service is finding the best ways for outreach to children and their families, to engage their interest in the parks she said. Ms. Harvey described how the Centennial Challenge Fund appropriations will provide the funding for the outreach projects.
On April 24th during National Park Week, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne and the National Park Service will officially announce 110 initial Centennial projects for 2008 with 114 partners, in 76 national parks, in 38 states and Washington, D.C. Ms. Harvey mentioned that the projects will vary and include: revamping the Junior Park Ranger programs in many parks, superintendent-training programs, and a project to install solar panels. The announcement will occur on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and Ms. Harvey invited the group to join her on this special occasion. "We are very excited to be where we are at this point in time," she said.
Ms. Harvey described how the National Park Service is focused on making outreach programs sustainable. Through a partnership with the National Association of State Park Directors, Ms. Harvey hopes to create a nationwide effort to compile information on best practices and events into a usable catalog.
"Visitor experience is our #1 priority and yet our website is not easily accessible to children," she admitted. The park service is working to make its website kid-friendly and include featured ranger stories that will highlight the unique career opportunities the National Park Service offers," she said.
A new children's coloring book sponsored by the National Park Foundation will be included in a welcome package distributed at all 394 national parks, said Ms. Harvey. She shared her excitement about the April 26th Junior Ranger Day event on the national mall, in conjunction with Build - A - Bear Workshop, where the coloring book will also be offered to under-served youth. Ms. Harvey was further pleased to report that the National Park Foundation is partnering with Macy's in a parks fund-raising campaign, as well as a program to ignite children's interest in the parks through a coloring book and special patch give-a-way. A kids' passport program will further encourage children to visit national parks and the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will recognize land stewardship and volunteerism through special badges, she said.
Ms. Harvey concluded her remarks with an optimistic prediction for the National Park Service's efforts to re-engage the public in our parks. She pointed out that next steps should include a discussion on maximizing the work of the partners and notified the group of the upcoming meeting of the National Leadership Council where these issues will be discussed further. Finally, she was pleased to announced the National Park Service's participation along with Take Pride in America in the inaugural National Get Outdoors Day on June 14th.
Recreation Exchanges are hosted in Washington, D.C. by the American Recreation Coalition, featuring guests who are influencing recreation policy in America. Information on past and future programs is available at: www.funoutdoors.com
If you would like to contact Deputy Director Harvey, she can be reached as follows:
L. Harvey, Deputy Director, National
(202) 208-4621 Fax:(202) 208-7889
Recreation Exchanges are made possible by the following sponsors:
American Association for Nude Recreation
American Horse Council
American Motorcyclist Association
Bureau of Land Management
Bureau of Reclamation
Kampgrounds of America
Motorcycle Industry Council
National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds
National Marine Manufacturers Association
National Park Service
National Recreation and Park Association
Personal Watercraft Industry Association
Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association
Recreation Vehicle Industry Association
USDA Forest Service
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
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Updated April 24, 2008
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