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Thoughts on the First Day of Our Centennial

January 6, 2016 in Uncategorized

NPS Equestrian Unit in the Rose Parade

Over the last few days in Pasadena, California, as we launched into our centennial year, I was struck by how the events perfectly defined our history, our long traditions, and our future.

On January 1st, I had the privilege to ride alongside several dozen National Park Service employees in the 127th Tournament of Roses Parade. We had rangers, park police officers, superintendents, packers, Buffalo Soldiers, junior rangers, volunteers, partners, and Burl, the NPS’s only stagecoach driver. We rode proudly along the five-mile parade route displaying our century of tradition of sharp uniforms, horses, and wagons. The beautiful floats spoke of our traditions and our invitation to Find Your Park (or Adventure) with floral depictions of charismatic megafauna, waterfalls, RVs and patriotic symbols like Mt. Rushmore.

I was also impressed by the extraordinary diversity of the 600,000 spectators lining the street – Asian, Hispanic, and African American families cheering us on, waving and clapping all along the parade route. Just a few miles away, rangers from Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area were having fun with hundreds of kids at the Live on Green festival, engaging them in activities like carpet kayaking, crunchy leaf walking, magnetic spin fishing, scratch-and-sniff plants, and hiking a trail to their future employment. It was active, engaging, and anything but traditional NPS and the kids and their families loved it.  At the “post parade”, thousands more, again highly diverse, milled around the floats and lined up to get their junior ranger stamps for a mass swearing-in by the SAMO rangers.

I came away from those few days very proud of our organization, for its long sense of tradition, but also for its willingness to embrace new and exciting ways to connect with the next generation.

Kayaking the LA River

New Centennial Licensing Program Retail Guide Available

February 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

The National Park Service and National Park Foundation are pleased to announce the completion of the centennial licensing program retail guide! Park concessioners, cooperating associations, and friends groups are invited to participate in the licensing program and incorporate the centennial logo and Find Your Park logo onto retail products, souvenirs, apparel, and other merchandise. Both logos will be highly visible over the next two years as NPS and NPF launch the Find Your Park national campaign, driving demand and brand awareness of the logos.

Participants in the licensing program will be able to choose from a range of design options for incorporating the logos. The retail guide includes dozens of creative graphic treatments of both logos, as well as templates that allow for easy park customization. The individual logos themselves can also be incorporated into product designs, following the logo guidelines included in the guide. By including a range of options, the program allows licensees to determine their level of design effort, from simply using the supplied graphic treatments to incorporating the logos into original designs.

The guide also contains font packages, color palettes, and packaging samples available for approved usage. Licensees will be able to access the full guide and the graphic files quickly and easily via an on-line platform after completing a simple registration form.

This turnkey program is designed for park partners to be able to quickly register and gain access to the full retail guide and graphic assets. A royalty rate of 4.25% will be applied to each retail sale to be paid by park-partner licensees to the National Park Foundation. In addition, NPS and NPF are creating a line of standard house centennial products that will be available for park retailers to purchase directly through an NPF webstore and will not require a license agreement.

To register as a licensee, gain access to the full retail guide and graphic assets, get started on the development of centennial and Find Your Park merchandise, and ensure that you receive additional updates on all aspects of the program:

Contact M Style Marketing at nationalparks@mstylemarketing.com
Visit the National Park Foundation Centennial Licensing webpage

Let’s Partner Together!

November 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

Have you been wondering how to partner with the National Park Service to celebrate the Centennial? This is an exciting opportunity to play an essential role in helping to bring the Find Your Park public awareness campaign to life across the country! To provide guidance about the campaign, the National Park Service and National Park Foundation have released the first of three Find Your Park toolkits for partners. The first toolkit is available here—on this website. (After registering to use NextCenturyforParks.org, click on the “Tools” button, top right.) These materials are provided so you can plan and prepare to launch the Find Your Park public engagement campaign together with the National Park Service in spring 2015. Please take the time to review and discuss the toolkit with your staff.

The Find Your Park toolkit contains information about research used to develop the campaign, new audiences we are trying to reach, a planning calendar, logos, style guides, recommendations on how to best use social and traditional media for the campaign, and display materials in development for parks, programs, and partners. All parks, programs, and partners are asked not to display the Find Your Park logo or messaging to the public until the launch of the campaign.

The Find Your Park campaign connects directly with the goal of the Centennial–to connect with and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters, and advocates. Reintroducing the National Park Service to the American public through the Find Your Park campaign is an important component of reaching that goal.

If you have specific questions about the toolkit or specific logo use, see the “Contacts” section near the back of the partner toolkit for a list of nationwide contacts. In addition, National Park Service staff have has received a toolkit, as well, so feel free to contact your designated National Park Service park or program representative for more information. In addition, after you review the toolkit, bring your questions and feedback to an upcoming webinar for National Park Service staff and partners:

November 20, 2014, from 3:00-4:00 p.m. EST
Find Your Park Toolkits, Part II  

Conference Line: 1-888-455-3079, Verbal Pass Code: Campaign

Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat now at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/686526104
https://sites.google.com/a/nps.gov/nps-centennial-office/connect-with-the-community-1/centennial-office-webinars.

Thank you for your interest in the National Park Service Centennial. We look forward to working with you! Collectively we can increase our visibility, build momentum from the ground up, and create a legacy of support for national parks and other public lands that will go far beyond 2016.

NPS/NPF Hosting Centennial Webinars

November 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

The National Park Service, together with the National Park Foundation, has announced a webinar series for NPS employees and partners to learn more about the 2016 centennial preparations.  Please see below for information about the webinars, including links for registering as a participant. We hope you can join us!


Find Your Park Toolkits, Part II

Date: Thursday, November 20, 2014

Time: 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM EDT

Conference Line: 1-888-455-3079, Verbal Pass Code: Campaign

Space is limited. Reserve your webinar seat now at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/686526104


Getting Ready for Campaign Launch, Part I – Find Your Park Website

Date: Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Time: 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM EDT

Conference Line: 1-888-455-3079, Verbal Pass Code: Launch

Space is limited. Reserve your webinar seat now at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/652862208


Centennial Schedule & Event Planning

Date: Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Time: 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM EDT

Conference Line: 1-888-455-3079, Verbal Pass Code: Planning

Space is limited. Reserve your webinar seat now at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/119141904


Getting ready for Campaign Launch, Part II

Date: Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Time: 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM EDT

Conference Line: 1-888-455-3079, Verbal Pass Code: Service

Space is limited. Reserve your webinar seat now at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/743189369

National Park Service Celebrates 98th Birthday

August 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

On Monday August 25, 2014, the National Park Service (NPS) celebrated its 98th birthday and, along with the National Park Foundation, began the countdown to its centennial anniversary in 2016. Founders Day 2014 was commemorated with fee-free admission to all national parks, a variety of exciting events across the country, the unveiling of a new centennial logo, and the launch of a centennial logo retail licensing program.

The new logo was the highlight of a fun and creative social media campaign that had hundreds of parks posting both scenic and appropriately funny photos featuring the logo displayed in front of beautiful scenery or historic sites and often presented by park staff or volunteers. Parks posted photos to Facebook and Twitter using the designated hashtag “#nationalparks”. The posts were shared widely and liked by thousands of people.

The new centennial logo will be an important tool for unifying the many programs, activities, events, and initiatives relating to the centennial under a common identity. The logo will be available for partners to use for communications and public relations, to identify promotional activities, and to highlight joint events and programs planned in collaboration with parks. Toolkits providing access to the centennial logo and Find Your Park campaign materials as well as use guidelines for parks, programs, and partners are being developed and will be available in late October. These tools will enable NPS partners to fully participate in the launch of the Find Your Park campaign in early spring 2015.

The centennial logo will also be available for partners to license for retail products such as clothing, souvenirs, outdoor gear, educational items, and more. The Centennial Logo Retail Licensing Program, launched in collaboration with the National Park Foundation, is an exciting way for park partner retailers to voluntarily participate in the centennial campaign and help park visitors to show their support for the centennial and the NPS. Partners interested in learning more about the logo licensing program can visit the NPF Centennial Licensing webpage.

For updates about the National Park Service centennial, visit the NPS Centennial webpage.

Rangering in the Tenth Decade

July 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

Upon reaching 92, I have collected so many memories and experiences. The story I want to share today is my national park story.

In 1942, I worked as a 20-year-old clerk in the Boilermakers Auxiliary 36 union hall in Richmond, California changing addresses on 3 x 5 file cards for shipyard workers. My parents were proud of me. Especially when you consider that when I graduated from high school three years before, the only opportunities open to young women of color were to work in agriculture or to be a domestic servant. Even though it was a Jim Crow union hall, my position at Boilermakers Auxiliary 36 was considered a step up. This was probably the equivalent of today’s young African American women being the first in their families to enter college.

Scroll now to 13 years ago and I was again back in the city of Richmond. This time as a field representative for a member of the California State Assembly, working in a one-person satellite office on constituency concerns and helping to determine what kinds of legislation might be needed in the district we represented.

This was the same year that there were discussions going on about planning an experimental urban park consisting of scattered sites throughout the city. This urban park is what we know as Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park.

The historic Ford Assembly Plant was one of the sites being considered and because it was built on state-owned land, there was a seat at the planning table for the state of California with Department of the Interior and National Park Service representatives. That seat was filled by one small field representative of color, me!

I was the only person in the room who recognized that the dozen or more sites which would form this park were sites of racial segregation.

What gets remembered is a function of who’s in the room doing the remembering.

It was clear that those gathered round the planning table were professionals interested in the untold stories and lost conversations of the history that I represented.  The true stories of how those years were lived were so much more powerful than the myths that we’d made up about them, and they soon became the roots upon which to build our park.

One might wonder if I’d become a genius over the decades since 1942. And, of course, this was not a case of personal accomplishment, but an indication of just how much social change had occurred in the nation over the ensuing years. This was not about me, but about an entire nation that had experienced that trajectory. It became obvious that it was important to have a place where people could re-visit segregation so they could learn how to move forward into a more compassionate future.

I eventually left my position with the state of California and became a consultant to this emerging park, and (at 85!) morphed into the role of an interpretive National Park Service ranger sensitive to identifying relevancy; an active social conscience; a record of political activism; and a person capable of working across the generations.

I’ve outlived all those whose memories don’t agree with mine, so I’m now also a historian! Who argues with dinosaurs?

At 92, I’m still feeling relevant. I do two presentations in our theater each week, guide two public bus tours each month, and carry a full schedule of engagements for educational institutions, corporate events, and civic organizations.

And I will be here until the day that I wake up and find that I’ve lost the ability to tie my own shoes, or really can’t find my car keys!

Betty Soskin is a National Park Service ranger at Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California. She is the country’s oldest full-time national park ranger. You can learn more about her and read her blog at http://cbreaux.blogspot.com/.

Photo credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

National Park Service Centennial Campaign

March 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

Junior Ranger Day at Everglades National Park. NPS photo.

This week, the National Park Service announced the theme, “Find Your Park,” for the broad public engagement campaign to reintroduce the national parks and programs to a new generation of Americans, inviting them to visit and get involved.  Plans for the campaign are underway in collaboration with the National Park Foundation, the official nonprofit partner of the National Park Service.

In commemoration of the centennial, we will team up with partners to produce programs, events, and activities that will drive broad awareness, deepen engagement, and increase support for the work of the Service and its partners. In addition to making all 401 national parks go-to destinations, the campaign will highlight the significant work the National Park Service and our partners do with communities across the country and the value it brings to Americans every day.

Marking the first phase of the campaign, the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation unveiled two new additions to the National Park Service brand family.  For more information on the announcement and brand family, please visit the new NPS Centennial webpage.

Secretary Jewell partners with IMPACT for MLK Weekend of Service

January 27, 2014 in Connecting People to Parks, Preservation, Uncategorized

At the conclusion of his now famous, “I Have a Dream Speech,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. pressed America to let freedom ring from the “prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire,” from the “mighty mountains of New York,” from the “heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania,” and throughout the nation.  Dr. King referenced the natural beauty of America as a backdrop to his dream of freedom, equality, and brotherhood.  The speech was given at a National Park – the Lincoln Memorial, and the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” that Dr. King culminated took place on public lands.

As beneficiaries of both the dream and the natural beauty of our nation, we have a responsibility to be good stewards of our national parks and public lands.  In this spirit, during the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend of Service, Secretary Sally Jewell and several DOI staff joined the National Park Service and their partner IMPACT to engage in a beautification project at and around the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

IMPACT is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to engage and build a network of young professionals of color to foster civic engagement, increase knowledge of the political and legislative processes, and enhance economic empowerment opportunities.  IMPACT is proud to continue supporting NPS in ensuring that the MLK Memorial and National Mall are as beautiful as the words spoken Dr. King.  The Secretary’s involvement in these service activities signals the importance of honoring the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and ensuring that America’s national parks and public lands are preserved for future generations.

A Field of Honor: Remembering Flight 93

September 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

Wall of Names at Flight 93 National Memorial

Today, the nation pauses to reflect on the events of September 11, 2001.  For the National Park System, the focus turns to Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, PA.  The Flight 93 National Memorial is a permanent memorial to the 40 passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93. Their heroic actions ultimately caused their hijacked plane to crash before reaching its intended target of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

As we observe the twelfth anniversary of September 11, the National Park Foundation announced that, through the commitment of the Flight 93 Partners and the support of over 110,000 individuals, foundations and corporations, the $40 million in private funds needed for the establishment, design and construction of the memorial has been raised.

The campaign funds have made possible the construction of the park’s Memorial Plaza, Wall of Names, 40 Memorial Groves, the Field of Honor, and major reforestation of the landscape.  Additional construction through 2015 will include a Visitor Center Complex consisting of a permanent artifact exhibition, Learning Center and Flight Path/Memorial Walls.

While the National Park Foundation’s national capital campaign is complete, the Foundation has also helped to establish a local philanthropic organization, the Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial, which will continue to fundraise on behalf of the national memorial.  The Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial, like the hundreds of other local philanthropic park Friends Groups across the country, will provide support for the operational needs and programmatic opportunities of the memorial.

As we reflect on the tragic events of that day, we can be proud of the steps we have taken together to preserve this chapter of the American story.  Through Flight 93 National Memorial and the other 400 national parks, we are able to pass along our rich history to future generations.

A March at the Beginning of a Trail: My Memories of August 28, 1963

August 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

My name is Steven Elkinton, and I am 65 years old.  As manager of the National Trails Program for the National Park Service, I have had the good fortune to participate in multi-cultural projects bring the diverse stories of Americans into the recreation system from Network to Freedom Underground Railroad to the Trail of Tears. Perhaps that path started for me a half-century ago, as a white 15-year old, when I had the opportunity to attend the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

I grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia in a Quaker family.  Quakers in those days were working hard in what was then called “race relations” — fair housing, fair employment, voting rights, open transportation, and integrated schools.  In Media, PA, an interracial community center, called Fellowship House, had been set up for after-school and weekend programs.  I often participated in these programs and did my best, as a school kid, to try to reach across racial barriers.  It was hard, for I remember in school that somehow all the African -American kids ended up in “special education.”  We lived with prejudice, but we knew it was unfair.

That year my older brother, who was a keenly political and progressive, told me about this march and that Media Fellowship House was organizing buses for a day trip down to DC.  He knew it would be an historical event that might even influence President Kennedy.  Why not see Washington, experience the March, and maybe move national policy a little closer towards fairness?  I was happy to go, especially with him at my side.

I don’t remember all the details of the trip, but I remember as we approached Washington the only traffic was a steady stream of buses bringing thousands of people to the March.  Every window in every house was open and people were leaning out waving kerchiefs and bandanas and fans, welcoming us to the city – we felt like heroes being welcomed.  Even before we reached the Mall, we were made to feel as welcomed guests, rather than protesters.

For us it wasn’t a March, but really a rally.  We stood in the sun for 5-6 hours, just off the northwest corner of the Reflecting Pool and were as awe-struck as everyone about this skillfully planned peaceful assembly — supposedly the largest ever to have occurred up to that time in the Capital of the Free World.  (Only later did I come to appreciate some of the political and historic background of the event, and that Bayard Rustin, also raised a Quaker, and chief event organizer, came from our neighboring county Pennsylvania of Chester County.)

Despite a lot of waiting around with nowhere to sit and high heat, spirits were high and the speeches and entertainment often deeply moving for an idealistic 15 year-old. I recognized the entertainers more than the speakers (my mother was an opera fan, so Marian Anderson’s voice was well known to me).  I had also heard Martin Luther King, Jr. speak at a Quaker conference in 1957, so I knew his speech would be eloquent, deeply spiritual, and uplifting.  And so it was.  Thousands of people had come to be lifted up — and we were.  

At the end of the day, I certainly felt empowered, and sensed that there was hope that this great nation could overcome deep-seated racial and social prejudices that had bedeviled it from its origins.  We had done our best to be a good audience — and the speakers’ platform had delivered, with words and music of hope and promise ringing in our ears. Even as we boarded the bus one sign caught my eye — “Don’t Forget the Indians.”  Yes, I thought, this struggle for civil rights and equality is not just black-white.  It is for human justice for all groups in this country.

Flash forward to 1978, 15 years after March, and I came back to Washington as a newly hired National Park Service landscape architect.  I would wander around the Lincoln Memorial and wonder what had happened, had the March been worthwhile?  Have we as a nation pulled together for jobs and freedom?  Were we, too, mortally wounded by the assassinations of both Kennedy and King?  Are we really making progress, or just negotiating around the edges?  Can racism and prejudice every really be eliminated?

It has been great blessing to me as an NPS employee (approaching retirement now after 35 years) to participate in multi-cultural projects, including the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail and the Nez Perce National Historic Trails.  I even guided a tour of the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail focused on indigenous Hawaiian culture of the Big Island.

In my NPS career, it has been my privilege to help America remember and celebrate its multi-cultural heritage.  Given my Quaker upbringing, I probably would have this without coming to Washington in 1963.  But that March — making history on behalf of all the people just by being present — moved me forward to be as strongly supportive as I could for equal rights, equal justice, and economic empowerment of all people, not just the privileged.