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The past year, the National Parks Service hit an all-time attendance record with 292.8 million visitors which jumped by 19 million visitors from 2013! This topped the previous record of 287.2 million visits set in 1987.
The number of visitors is obviously not a worry for the Parks, however the age of the visitor is. During WWII, attendance dropped from 20 million visitors in 1941 to 8 million in 1942, 6 million in 1943 and 7 million in 1944. Once the boys came home, attendance jumped again as families grew and attended parks. There were also a few big jumps in attendance numbers in the mid 60’s and 70’s when the baby boomers were flourishing. Now that the baby boomers are approaching retirement, the age of annual attendees is also growing. A major challenge is keeping all ages engaged in Parks including our younger ones which spend about 90% of their time indoors.
To help with that, the National Parks Service is rolling out two programs that will be geared towards younger generations and coincide with the 100th anniversary of the NPS. The first one is the Find Your Park program geared more towards the millennials who are constantly on social media and sharing experiences on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The mission of #FindYourPark is to educate people about and connect them to their national parks. They provide a handy map to find all 407 national parks as well as other public lands. You can also submit your photos and stories of adventures in parks by participating in the Centennial Project. This project is a contest to find and celebrate the top 100 Find Your Park stories. Share your story here!
The second program is geared to reach kids and their families. “Every Kid in a Park” has a mission 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!”
The basics of the program work like this: through partnerships with schools across the country, students will learn about national park topics online, complete a quiz and then be able to print a voucher to get a pass for the 2015-2016 school year for them and their family! Stay tuned to the National Park Service for more info!
HUGE thanks to the National Parks Service for kicking off these two programs! We are excited to spread the word about them and hope you take advantage of them!