To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service, the National Geographic Society, with support from Subaru of America, Inc., has launched the “Find Your Park, Love Your Park” educational initiative, developed to teach fourth graders across the United States about the importance of U.S. national parks and to empower students to preserve and protect them.
, which invite kids to visit, explore and protect national parks. The activity modules provide educators with fun and engaging activities, including documenting animal tracks at local parks, geocaching scavenger hunts, using digital maps to explore different parks and discussing concrete ways students can help solve challenges facing national parks. Educators, students and their families are encouraged to participate and take a pledge on the new interactive “Pledge to Love America’s Parks” map to visit, protect and love specific parks.
“Subaru and Subaru owners are incredibly passionate about the environment,” said Alan Bethke, vice president of marketing, Subaru of America, Inc. “That’s why we created the ‘Subaru Loves the Earth’ initiative, focused on preserving, protecting and celebrating our national parks. Our support of National Geographic aims to educate and empower the next generation of park-goers to protect our national parks for another 100 years.”
“National Geographic is committed to educating the next generation of explorers about the importance of protecting and preserving our planet,” said Melina Bellows, chief education officer at National Geographic. “The ‘Find Your Park, Love Your Park’ educational initiative with support from Subaru allows us to provide educators around the country with rich, interactive activities they can use in and out of the classroom to engage students about national parks and why they matter.”
For almost a century, the National Geographic Society has been raising the public’s awareness of the historical and cultural significance – and majestic beauty – of America’s national parks. National Geographic has consistently featured the National Park Service and specific national parks across all of its publications, television channels and expansive digital presence. National Geographic magazine’s April 1916 “Land of the Best” issue published more than 100 photographs of America’s scenic wonders and was used during congressional hearings to help influence Congress to create the National Park Service and the park system.
The “Find Your Park, Love Your Park” educational initiative complements the National Park Service and National Park Foundation’s Find Your Park/Encuentra Tu Parque movement to celebrate and share inspirational stories from national parks nationwide. It also bolsters the White House “Every Kid in a Park” initiative, launched in February this year, which provides free entry into national parks for fourth-grade students. The Subaru and National Geographic effort is focused on engaging teachers of fourth graders through activities designed by National Geographic’s education specialists to help students appreciate the importance of protected spaces and consider their impact on them.
While the activities were developed with fourth-grade educators in mind, they can also serve as a jumping-off point for younger or older students and for families to do together at home. For example, one of the activities is a mini field trip to observe the natural and man-made things they will see in a nearby place and begin mapping them. Parents and caregivers of young children can use these same basic concepts on nature walks – looking for animals and insects and tracking footprints – while older children can take some of the more complex elements of mapping and developing a plan to protect the area deeper.
The interactive map is mobile-responsive and allows users to easily search for national, state and local parks based on their ZIP codes; “claim” a park as their own; and pledge to visit, protect and love the park. The digital experience is filled with pictures and information about parks and allows students, families and classrooms to explore national parks across the country from wherever they are.
The activity modules and interactive map are available for download at no cost and will be highlighted on National Geographic’s Education site throughout 2016.