The National Park Service turned 100 on August 25, 2016
In many celebrations across the United States, the National Park Service celebrated the accomplishments of its first 100 years, but more importantly, it was as milestone for looking ahead to the next 100 years. It was more than a birthday.
First 100 years
In its first century, the National Park Service focused on stewardship and preservation of the historical and cultural foundations of our nation and on the enjoyment of these exceptional places.
– Places of beauty and natural wonder, such as cathedral forests of Redwood, the call of the Denali wilderness, and in the quiet of Grand Canyon, or the surreal landscapes of the volcanoes in Hawaii;
– Places that increase our understanding, knowledge, and appreciation, such as our 79 national and international historic sites;
– Places to learn about honor, bravery, patriotism, and sacrifice, including those where civic engagements—often confrontational and sometimes violent—have shaped who we are as a people: Selma to Montgomery, Brown v. Board of Education, Manzanar, the Statue of Liberty, and Flight 93;
– Places that are a collective expression of who we are as a people and where our values were forged, like the solemn battlefields of Yorktown and Gettysburg to the silent waters that embrace the USS Arizona;
– Places that deliver a message to future generations about the experiences that have made America a symbol of freedom and opportunity for the rest of the world.
In 2014, national parks experienced a record-breaking 292.8 million visits, which translated into $29.7 billion in economic activity that supported nearly 277,000 jobs across the country.
How many employees are in the National Park Service?
- Permanent, temporary, and seasonal: Approximately 22,000 diverse professionals
- Volunteers in Parks: 221,000
First National Parks: 1872 Yellowstone; Yosemite was a California Stare Park in 1864 and became a National Park in 1890
– Largest: Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, AK, at 13.2 million acres
– Smallest: Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial, PA, at 0.02 acres
Early leaders of the Park Service Idea
Second 100 Years
In 2015, the NPS Centennial kicked off a second century of stewardship of America’s national parks and engaging communities through recreation, conservation, and historic preservation programs.
Connect with and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters, and advocates.
Call to Action
To focus the NPS efforts to achieve this goal, a Call to Action was issued to all National Park Service employees and partners to commit to actions that advance the Service toward a shared vision for 2016 and our second century. It describes 4 main themes, 15 goals, and 37 actions that chart a new direction for the National Park Service as it enters its second century. The heart of the plan includes these four broad themes, each supported by specific goals and measureable actions.
– Connecting People to Parks
– Advancing the NPS Education Mission
– Preserving America’s Special Places
– Enhancing Professional and Organizational Excellence
National Park Service Centennial Act
In September 2015, the National Park Service Centennial Act was proposed by the Obama Administration to:
– further the agency’s legacy of protecting, preserving and sharing some of the Nation’s most iconic sites with all Americans
– further funding for critical infrastructure projects, leveraging public-private donations and partnerships to enhance visitor experiences, and expanding volunteer and job opportunities in national parks and historic sites across the country
– provide new resources to help revitalize our national parks, upgrade park facilities, and connect a new, diverse generation to the great outdoors.
Key provisions of the Act include:
– Providing funding for signature Centennial projects to make necessary improvements to park infrastructure; to establish a Second Century fund that will encourage philanthropic support for NPS programs and projects; and to establish a Second Century Endowment held by the National Park Foundation to help it leverage private donations for NPS projects and programs.
– Strengthening the National Park Service’s capacity to provide visitor services and protecting the special places in its care by expanding eligibility for young people to participate in the Public Lands Corp, which will extend the timeline for direct-hire authority through that program. As a result, the National Park Service will be able to recruit and hire more young and diverse Americans.
– Allowing for increased funding to support the National Park Service’s Volunteers in the Park program by removing the authorization ceiling. Last year, the program engaged at least 247,000 people who volunteered nearly 6.7 million hours of time.
– Ensuring that the National Park Service has the tools to carry out education programs that meet the needs and interests of a changing American demographic.
– Allowing the National Park Service to use additional contracting tools, which are more consistent with industry practices, to contract with commercial visitor service providers for lodging, food and beverage, and other visitor services.
Find Your Park
A centerpiece of the 2016 Centennial was a broad public engagement campaign to reintroduce the national parks and the work of the National Park Service to a new generation of Americans, inviting them to visit and get involved. A major campaign, named Find Your Park, was a two-year effort that will began in 2015 and ran throughout the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary year in 2016. The NPS campaign was being spearheaded and implemented by the National Park Foundation, the official charitable partner and fundraiser for the National Park Service.
Find Your Park continues today and is about more than just national parks. It’s about all parks including state parks, local parks, trails, museums, historic sites, and the many ways that the American public can connect with history and culture, enjoy nature, and make new discoveries. First Lady Michelle Obama and Mrs. Laura Bush served as honorary co-chairs to promote the celebration of the 2016 centennial and to encourage people to find their park by connecting with their favorite parks and public lands.
In honor of its 99th birthday on August 25, 2015, the National Park Foundation, the NPS’s official charity, created a list of 99 Ways to #FindYourPark. The list includes a wide range of activities that you can do in urban parks, nature parks, historic parks, and everything in between to find a park.
- Go climbing
- Write poetry
- Be an urban hiker
- Visit a National Heritage Area
- Learn about climate change
- Discover a culture new to you
- Experience silence
- Walk through a doorway of a historic house
- Find inspiration in the story of a Civil Rights leader
- Go on a ranger-led tour #RangersPointingAtThings
- Hug a tree
- Make a memory
- Earn a Jr. Ranger badge
- Relax on the banks of a scenic river
- Celebrate innovation
- Find life in a desert
- Get inspired by a First Lady
- Stand on a mountaintop
- Bring a kid to a park
- Paddle a water trail
- Take a photo that matches a historic one #retrogram
- Try something new
- Channel your inner Bill Nye – become a citizen scientist
- Walk a historic main street
- Find your park in Spanish #EncuentraTuParque
- Explore a cave
- Go green
- Brush up your national park trivia skills
- Scout a park, boys and girls!
- Make art in a park
- Celebrate Native American heritage
- Come sail away
- Take a picnic and dine al fresco
- Be bear aware
- Hit the road
- Enlighten yourself at a historic lighthouse
- Go biking
- Explore Asian American and Pacific Islander culture in America
- Feel the sand between your toes
- Share your story
- Learn about endangered species
- Join us
- Follow NPS on social media
- Follow the footsteps of a woman who made history
- Get in the know about H2O
- Bee pollinator friendly
- Get VIP status
- Catch a wave
- Immerse yourself in a living history program
- Hit record
- Get prehistoric
- Improve your health – get a park Rx
- Use your free active military pass
- Get reel – visit a park featured in your favorite movie
- Join a trail clean-up
- See the sea
- Discover a traditional tribal cultural practice
- Let Elmo and Murray be your guides
- Mail a postcard
- Discover history around you
- Make new friends
- Raft down a river
- Pay your respects at a national cemetery
- Pick a POTUS
- Take a mini-cruise
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Walk nature’s treadmill
- Pose for a family photo in a park
- Recognize women who made history
- Reflect on our most difficult stories
- Stamp your park passport
- Ride on a historic carousel
- See history from a different perspective
- Renew your spirit
- See how NPS helps transform your community
- Go fish
- See the starry, starry night
- Make a splash
- Share a #tbt park photo
- Discover the beauty of our nation’s other public lands
- Sleep outside
- Spread the love – thank a park volunteer
- Plan the best field trip ever
- Visit our international sisters
- Trash your trash
- Find a monument and decode history
- Travel the Underground Railroad
- Use the buddy system!
- Visit for free on our 99th birthday
- Wander an American battlefield
- Watch wildlife
- Take a deep breath
- Go wild – experience wilderness
- Use a national park lesson plan
- Take a sunrise selfie
- Get ready to celebrate with us in 2016!
Every Kid in a Park
To further the goal of connecting Americans with parks even more, a White House youth initiative to get all 4th graders and their families to experience the places that are home to our country’s natural treasures, rich history, and vibrant culture free of charge was implemented. All kids in the fourth grade were granted access to their own Every Kid in a Park pass. This pass provided free access for the 4th grader and his or her family to national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges, and more.
The National Park Service and National Park Foundation worked closely with partners, stakeholders, and communities across the country
– to satisfy the actions in the Call to Action plan,
– help Americans find their park,
– get all 4th graders and their families into National Parks,
– and ensure that the Centennial is more than a birthday.
For 2 years National Park units everywhere and their many partners put on special events and hosting visitors in ways never imagined before. Partners, such as American Express, Budweiser, Subaru, REI, Humana, Disney are each contributing energy, dollars, and commitment to the celebration.
Those special events included activities such as:
targeted restoration, repair, rehab, and new construction to highlight and make available park resources,
special park-unique offerings such as hearing the liberty bell ring,
bike rides and hikes,
essay and lecture series,
gateway partner projects,
improving or establishing trails,
paddling and diving,
opening or reopening resources all to highlight and celebrate the next 100 years.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY NPS!
Last revised 21-Aug-17