On Saturday, April 18th, the start of National Park Week, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) will kick off its Find Your Voice initiative. Through hands-on service projects, recreational activities and civic engagement opportunities, NPCA is working to inspire the next generation of park advocates to speak up for America’s favorite places—an especially timely goal as the centennial of the creation of the National Park System approaches.
WHAT: Day-long activities will begin in the Gateway City of Homestead with a free national park trolley ride taking participants to Biscayne and Everglades National Parks. While at Biscayne, from 10am to 2pm, lunch will be available and participants can join students from Mahogany Youth for fishing and kayak lessons. Boat rides will also be available with a firsthand encounter from (a reenactor of) the legendary Lancelot Jones about his role in the creation of Biscayne National Park. The Find Your Voice event will move to Everglades National Park, from 2pm to 4pm, where participants will learn about restoring America’s Everglades to see alligators, wading birds, and other native wildlife along Anhinga Trail, and share the experience of young urban writers who recently ventured into the park’s wilderness.
WHEN: Saturday, April 18th from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, with keynote address at noon!
WHERE: Biscayne National Park (10am to 2pm)
9700 SW 328 Street
Homestead, Florida 33033
Everglades National Park (2pm to 4pm)
40001 State Hwy 9336
Homestead, Florida 33033
WHO: The National Parks Conservation Association, the National Park Service, Mahogany Youth, City of Homestead, YMCA, Blue Star Families, Baptist Health System, Junior Scientists in the Sea, among others.
“Our national parks represent who we are as a nation. So as a nation, it’s up to all of us to protect them. Our Find Your Voice initiative will help educate, engage and empower people to not only be national park visitors but also national park advocates,” said Clark Bunting, President and Chief Executive Officer of NPCA.
On launch day, the non-profit group will host the first of several events in and near national parks across the country this year.
Just minutes from Miami, people taking part in the East Coast kick-off event can hop on the free national parks trolley in the gateway city of Homestead to experience the best of what South Florida’s parks have to offer. As the state legislature considers creating a Lancelot Jones Day to honor the legendary African American fishing guide and farmer that helped create Biscayne National Park, boat rides into Biscayne Bay will be available for people to learn more about his impact on the park and the state. Visitors can also join students from Mahogany Youth for fishing and kayaking lessons along Biscayne Bay or visit Everglades National Park’s Anhinga Trail where they can watch native wildlife while learning about efforts to restore this area.
Near Los Angeles, West Coast kick-off event volunteers will help plant native species in the Rim of the Valley Corridor, an important area of natural beauty and cultural significance. NPCA is among the many organizations and individuals supporting a park service study of the region and pushing for it to be included in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. More than 17 million people live in the greater Los Angeles region, providing an incredible opportunity to connect people to wide-open spaces, waterways and sites that tell of the story of Los Angeles’s past.
Other activities will follow throughout the spring and summer, leading up to the start of the National Park System’s centennial year on August 25. These will include advocacy training in the proposed Lone Star Coastal National Recreation area in Texas, removing fences to allow Yellowstone Pronghorn greater room to roam outside park boundaries, a paddling tour of Jamaica Bay at New York’s Gateway National Recreation Area, beach clean-up in Olympic National Park, trail maintenance at C&O Canal National Historic Park in Washington, D.C. and clean-up efforts at Pullman National Monument in Chicago—America’s newest national park site. NPCA will also provide online opportunities to take part in Find Your Voice through action alerts and on social media using the hashtag #FindYourVoice.
“After nearly a century, our National Park System has grown to include more than 400 of our country’s most important historical and cultural sites and most iconic landscapes,” said Theresa Pierno, Chief Operating Officer of NPCA. “Participating in our Find Your Voice initiative, whether by getting your hands dirty in a park or by making your voice heard on social media, will help ensure our national parks thrive well into their second century.”
For more information about Biscayne National Park please visit the park website at www.nps.gov/bisc or follow the park on Facebook at www.facebook.com/biscaynenps or Twitter at www.twitter.com/biscaynenps.
About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 407 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.