Promote Conservation—Visit a National Park!
August 30, 2016
By Angela Cutrera
GFWC Conservation Chairman
GFWC’s commitment to conservation has been evident throughout its history as clubwomen around the country have focused on the preservation of our natural resources. This dedication is the perfect complement to the National Park Service, which works to care for natural and historical treasures.
GFWC President Mary Belle King Sherman, who served as Conservation Chairman from 1914-1920, was instrumental in the formation of six national parks, representing GFWC at the dedication of Rocky Mountain Park near her home and advocating for the GFWC resolution supporting the National Park Service Bill. On August 25, 1916, the National Park Service was officially created when President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park Service Organic Act.
To celebrate the 2016 Centennial, the National Park Service invites visitors to “Find Your Park” and discover these historic parks located across the country. So, can YOU Find Your Park? More than 400 national parks cover over 84 million acres, and there is at least one in every state. These parks are known by numerous names and are big, scenic areas. There are national lakeshores, seashores, and rivers. National monuments are large and small and national memorials honor a person or event. National battlefields commemorate a military action and national historic sites preserve the country’s history. National preserves are scientific landscapes and wildlife resources.
A visit with Park Ranger Jeremy Wirtz at the Prairie Acadian Cultural Center in Eunice, Louisiana, part of the Jean Lafitte National Park and Preserve in Louisiana, gave an insight into what the national parks really are about. “We are everyone’s park,” Jeremy stated. He is willing to work with individuals and groups to conduct programs we are interested in. His job is to pitch national parks, teach the history and culture of the area, and share how we are all responsible for the care of natural resources.
Caring for national parks takes a lot of work from each of its employees as well as the assistance of volunteers. Jobs for volunteers include working in the visitor center, grounds maintenance, photography, helping with research, or leading hikes.
Consider ways that you and your club members can volunteer and promote the National Park Service:
- Research the national parks and plan a visit to explore a park in your area.
- Plan a year-long study at your club meetings to educate your members about the National Park Service, its history, and the many parks, monuments, and historic sites throughout the country.
- Contact your local park and see if they need volunteers.
- Do they offer programs for kids? Volunteer to help or start a program of your own, such as a nature walk or a craft class using recyclable materials.
- Inquire about adopting a trail or a section of the park. Assist with maintenance, planting of trees, flowers or plants, or cleaning up litter.
- Choose to stay at a national park when traveling.
- Inquire about programs they can offer your group. Topics could include conservation, preservation, recycling, natural resources, plants and animals, or the history and culture of the area.
- Support the parks with monetary donations or by becoming a member of the National Parks Conservation Association.
Celebrate the 2016 Centennial of the National Park Service and Find Your Park. Discover America’s parks, have fun, and become a steward of these natural and historical treasures to ensure their existence for the next 100 years!
Minnie Bell Johnson
Minnie Bell Johnson is described by her fellow clubwomen as the happiest person they know, with a smile that brightens the whole room. Having just celebrated her 100th birthday, she has many reasons to smile. During her time with the Portland Woman’s Club (Oregon), she has served as both the club treasurer and club president. She’s still an active member to this day, voting on issues and club elections, and participating in projects like handing out personal care products to homeless women at the Rose Haven Women and Children’s Day Shelter.
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