What will you do to support YOUR National Park System? Here are four great ways to keep our national parks available to all who seek their beauty.
The US National Park Service turned 100 recently, so this is a great time to celebrate this wonderful heritage and to participate in keeping our parks pristine and accessible for generations yet to come.
Here are four things you can do to help preserve the beauty of the US National Park system.
Visit a National Park
Chances are you live within a day’s drive of one or more of the 59 national parks spread out across the United States. Parks make for great day trips and summer vacation destinations.
The entrance fee to the park you choose will go towards maintaining and upgrading its facilities, access and wilderness areas. Fees start at less than $10 per day for hikers and bicyclists. Non-commercial cars are a bit more per day, varying by park. Annual passes are offered for quite a few parks such as Everglades in Florida, Zion in Utah, Dinosaur in Colorado and Shenandoah in Virginia.
If you plan to visit several national parks in the next year, then the best value is the America the Beautiful pass, currently $80 (but just $10 for seniors) that gets you into all parks and more than 2,000 federal recreation sites.
Volunteer at a National Park
There are volunteer programs for individuals, families and groups at almost every national park. Exciting opportunities for volunteers include Centennial Volunteer Ambassadors, the National Park BioBlitz in conjunction with the National Geographic Society, Boy Scout and Girl Scout programs and artist-in-residence programs. The NPS calls it the VIP or Volunteer-In-Parks Program. Volunteer programs are administered by staff, often a person with a degree from a master in public administration program, and they’ll be able to discuss your volunteer options.
Make the National Park System a Career
For many, working in the parks is a dream job. The employment opportunities are many and varied. The path to a career in the Park Service begins with education. Entry level positions are open to those with a wide range of degrees including ecology, geology, biology and even English! Advanced degrees in related fields make you a candidate for better pay and faster career advancement.
Donate to the National Park of your Choice
Whether or not you have a chance to visit or volunteer, writing a check to the National Park Service and dropping it off at a park headquarters or mailing it to the park is a tax-deductible, proactive way to make a difference. Checks can also be made out to the National Park Foundation, the official charitable partner of the NPS. The mailing address is: National Park Foundation, 1110 Vermont, Ave. NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005.
Meghan Belnap, the author of this article, is a freelance writer from Oklahoma.
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