A few weeks ago a follower reached out to me on Twitter wondering if I'd be interested in helping to reach out to Millennials regarding the 100th Anniversary of the National Park System. While depending on what you read I either am or am not a Millennial, I was very excited to be offered the chance to reach out and help people discover green space in their communities. I jumped at the chance to sign up and be part of this team!
While each park system is doing different things to promote the 100th Anniversary of the National Park System, the Smokies crew is doing things both in the context of the national park and in the context of helping people discover green spaces on their own terms. While we have a national park here in the region, many people living in the area haven't done much exploring! In fact, I didn't start hiking in the park until my mid 20's despite growing up less than 20 minutes from one of the entrances. The Smokies is the most visited park in the country, so the fact that we'd have to fight the tourists every single weekend just to see the place really wasn't appealing, especially when you work on the strip in a mall and deal with them every day anyway! When I finally discovered what I was missing I was shocked. Who would have known you could get away from the crowds simply by taking a short walk in on a trail?! My personal story can really help resonate with people who are feeling the same way.
Part of what we do as volunteers is speaking at local engagements, be it at a Rotary Club with a slideshow, a school doing the Let's Move challenge, or even at a tourism convention. As an ambassador for the NPS, I'll be speaking to different groups of people about the history, preservation, and activities you can find not only in the Smokies, but also in regular parks in your own community. As a society that is ever more connected, we seem to be disconnected with nature and the outside world, which is where we come in.
The Find Your Park campaign isn't all about getting out and hiking epic mountains every day - it's about defining what a park is to you. Find Your Park encourages you to get outside and discover the world around you, be it in the small greenway in your community, the city park, or even a state park, national forest, or national park. The main goal is to see you get outside and enjoy what nature has to offer.
Have you found your park yet? Check out FindYourPark.com to learn more about the campaign to help people reconnect with nature.