Explore America’s national parks in April
When: April 17 – 25
What: Despite living in the world’s fourth-largest country, Americans are united by a spirit of adventure and appreciation for our shared wilderness: the Grand Canyon’s awe-inspiring span, Yellowstone’s magnificent geysers and the Great Smoky Mountains’ abundance of wildflowers. Next month, pay homage to America’s wild spaces during National Park Week, celebrated April 17-25.
Background: In 1872, Congress designated the Yellowstone region as the country’s first national park. Since then, 84 million acres of land and over 4.5 million acres of oceans, lakes, and reservoirs have been given national park status. During National Park Week, Americans are encouraged to visit national parks to learn about our shared heritage while taking steps to preserve these cherished sites abounding with natural wonders for future generations.
Story Pitch: Visitor bureaus and companies in the hospitality industry can pitch around this date, while environmental organizations can promote conservation and awareness. Schools and nonprofits can organize service-learning activities to teach their communities about America’s natural history and ongoing preservation efforts. Even retail companies whose products aid in exploring the great outdoors can pitch around this event.
The Story Hook: National parks house most of the country’s breathtaking landscapes, historical places and archeological sites; they also host nearly 275 million visitors every year according to the U.S. National Park Service. These parks also serve as living classrooms for scientists and teachers, and require upkeep by thousands of employees and volunteers each year. Consider the following questions before making your pitch:
- Alaska is home to two-thirds of the total U.S. national park acreage. What logistical challenges does the Park Service face when maintaining the state’s 54 million acres of parks?
- National parks employ 28,000 people. How else do the parks contribute to the economies of their neighboring communities?
- Although the national parks are open to all, many school districts may not have the resources to fund field trips to them. Sites like Views of the National Parks allow children to tour national parks from their computers. What other technological resources or programs exist to connect kids with our national parks?
- National parks are beautiful, but they often expose tourists to unfamiliar hazards. Where can tourists look for safety information to make sure they are prepared for a trip to a national park?
Tips: Provide the outlet you’re pitching with contact information for a park ranger willing to talk on the significance of national parks. In addition, school teachers and naturalists can be good sources of information.
National Park Service
National Recreation and Parks Association
Web Rangers Program
–Researched, compiled & written by Marissa Maybee
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