Taking a break from our regular weekly posts to celebrate another anniversary for the National Park Service. This week on August 25th, 2020 the National Park Service turns 104!
Like so many of us who have celebrated socially-distant birthdays in 2020, this year will be a rather usual commemoration for the NPS. As of this writing, many park buildings remain closed and ranger-led programs remain on hold as part of the pandemic response. Many of us were also looking forward to events celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment with NPS events, which are now being held virtually as well.
Even though we’re socially-distant, it won’t stop those of us who love the parks from celebrating 104 years of the places we love and enjoy. In fact, there’s still a wide-range of online events and programming happening this week for the 19th Amendment Centennial and NPS birthday celebration.
Check out this list of events and ways you can participate:
Fee-Free Entrance Day on August 25th
Each year to celebrate its founding in 1916, the National Park Service waives fees at the more than 100 sites with an entrance charge. By waiving the entrance fee, it allows more families and visitors to enjoy a park that might not otherwise have the opportunity to.
The August 25th date is one of five fee-free days this year. The next fee-free day will occur on September 26 for National Public Lands Day.
Black in the National Parks Week - August 24-29, 2020
Although the National Park Service has been preserving public lands for 104 years, not all Americans have had equal opportunity or access throughout it’s history. According to a 2018 survey of visitors, Black Americans make up only 2% of the more than 300 million visitors to the National Park Service. During the period of civil unrest this year, one of the many issues brought to light in the outdoors and national parks community were the disparities in who visits and enjoys our public spaces.
That’s why environmental advocate Nicole Jackson (one of the co-founders of the popular #BlackBirdersWeek) created Black in National Parks Week.
Starting on August 24th participants are encouraged to post images to social media with #BlackInNationalParks or #BlackInNationalParksWeek through August 29th. The full schedule of events includes:
Girl Scout Rangers and the 19th Amendment
The National Park Service and Girl Scouts of the USA have joined forces to offer a special program commemorating the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. The activity guide, special awards, and limited-edition commemorative patch is designed to help Girl Scouts’ understand the significance of the event which removed the gender restriction to voting, granting many woment the right to vote.
Girls everywhere are invited to visit a local national park, or search some of the NPS sites affiliated with the 19th Amendment to learn about the monumental step forward in women’s rights. They’re also encouraged to recognize that although the 19th Amendment granted many women access to a ballot–it excluded many women of color who still continue to struggle for voter equality.
Virtual Junior Ranger Programs
With so many families engaged in remote learning right now, many are turning to virtual Junior Ranger programs to supplement classroom activities. The National Park Service continues to offer virtual “Kids in Parks” activities year-round, including virtual tours, Junior Ranger booklets, and activities tied to environmental and historical preservation.
Is your Junior Ranger starting 4th grade this year? Late August kicks off another year of the “Every Kid Outdoors” program. It allows 4th graders and their family members free access to national parks and other public lands for an entire year.
Park Chasers Gets A New Look
While the pandemic put a curb on some of our national park travel plans, we’ve taken the opportunity to do some major housekeeping around our site. As part of the birthday celebration week, we’ll be launching a brand new design for the website. We’ve been working hard all summer to make it easier for our readers to #findyourpark and inspire you to spend more time outdoors.
Check back later this week for our new look! In the meantime, enjoy the let us know how you’ll be celebrating this week as the National Park Service turns 104!