Happy 100th Birthday, National Park Service!

August 22, 2016


Tim McClimon

The National Park Service turns 100 on August 26, 2016, and events around the country will mark the Centennial of one of the most innovative and impactful programs in our nation’s history: the creation of national parks and monuments – now numbering over 400!

The Centennial celebrates the past, but the focus of the National Park Service is always on the future, and American Express has been an enthusiastic partner with the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation during the last year – creating programs that focus on preserving and sustaining our parks and public lands for generations to come.

Programs like: Partners in Preservation: National Parks (which engaged over 200,000 people who cast over 1.1 million votes to help us distribute $2 million in preservation grants to nine national parks and monuments); the hiring of volunteer coordinators at YMCA’s in 50 U.S. cities (who will drive more volunteering in our public lands with the goal of engaging over one million volunteers annually); the creation and publication of a new online game called Save the Park (which was recognized by the Serious Play Conference with a Silver Award); and the production of a Find Your Park prepaid card (with the proceeds from the sale going to the National Park Foundation).

But, there’s more to come.

Today (August 22), the National Park Service is hosting the final chapter of its year-long Park Exchange event series at the Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 1. The Park Exchange event series have been designed to celebrate parks around the country this summer.

The first one took place in May at the University of Texas, Austin, where the Park Service brought the towering trees of Redwood National and State Parks to central Texas by creating a virtual experience using motion sensor technology. In June, the Park Service brought the rich musical tradition of New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park to Chicago with line parades featuring Chicago’s Hypnotic Brass Ensemble and New Orleans’ Treme Brass Band and Black Men of Labor.

Today’s event, which takes place from 1:00 to 10:00 p.m., celebrates New Jersey’s Thomas Edison National Historic Park, and during the day visitors will gain a better understanding of Thomas Edison’s genius and his effect on the modern world by engaging in a series of fun, interactive puzzle challenges.

As one of the Centennial premier sponsors, American Express is hosting a Smart Parks Game Jam, an interactive game experience with our partner Games for Change, which will showcase the Save the Park game and allow participants to learn the basics of game design and prototype games that encourage people to use technology to interact with parks.

Next month, there are myriad volunteer opportunities in our parks centered on 9/11 Days of Service. Some of those are being coordinated by our partner, the Student Conservation Association under the rubric of Find Your Park Day of Service. For example, volunteers can help restore historic Fort Jay and Castle Williams on Governor’s Island in New York Harbor, as well as improving gardens and trails across the island.

So, whether you join us in Brooklyn Bridge Park or volunteer at a Find Your Park Day of Service or play our Save the Park online game from your couch or get out and enjoy a national park or monument in the waning days of summer, I hope you take a moment to reflect on the beauty and diversity of our national park system and help us celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. Happy birthday!

  If you have a question or comment, please follow me on Twitter at @timmcclimon and start a conversation there. Thanks for reading and sharing these CSR Now! blog postings with friends and colleagues.

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