Find_Your_Park_150The face of “Find Your Park” doesn’t exactly match that of the National Park Service, which launched the campaign as part of its 2016 centennial rollout.

But the NPS hopes it will be.

Among a series of videos included in the “Find Your Park” campaign, five feature people of color, including two black, two Latin and one Asian. Two are celebrity ambassadors, black TV personality Terrence P and Puerto Rican singer and actress Roselyn Sanchez. The other three are park rangers.

The service attracted a record-shattering 292.8 million visitors in 2014, but the vast majority of those visitors were white and aging. With the country projected to be a majority non-white by 2042, it’s a trend the NPS needs to reverse to ensure its health and future.

A digital and visual literacy specialist at the NPS, Michael Liang is featured in a "Find Your Park" video.
Michael Liang
A digital and visual literacy specialist at the NPS, Michael Liang is featured in a “Find Your Park” video.[/caption]A digital and visual literacy specialist at the NPS, Michael Liang is featured in a “Find Your Park” video.[/caption]It’s a critical moment to “reset the parks for the next century,” so that they don’t become parks for people of the past, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told the Associated Press. “If we don’t reach out and become relevant to a broader population, we won’t have the support the parks need to do their jobs in the future.”

Jewel is the former CEO at REI, which is one of the NPS centennial partners and considered a leader in diversity efforts.

President Obama’s proposed budget for 2016 includes $3 billion for the NPS, an increase of $432.9 million over current funding. That appears to be a bright development, however the NPS in 2014 reached the $11.49 billion mark in deferred maintenance, work postponed for at least a year and with unresolved outcomes. Park roads and bridges accounted for more than half of the deferred work.

Against that backdrop, the NPS began a centennial-focused outreach effort with millennials and racial and cultural minority groups as its prime targets.

With the latter in mind, one “Find Your Park” video shows Sanchez at Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the most visited unit in the NPS, and saying she considers national parks as “the greatest gyms in the world.” Another features Terrence J, the E!News anchor, makes a visit to Yosemite National Park in recognition of the role of the Buffalo Soldiers as the first rangers there and nearby Sequoia National Park.

Michael Liang, a digital and visual literacy specialist for the NPS, talks about running in Cheeseboro Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Born in Argentina, Maria Thomson years ago took her young daughter to Everglades National Park and now serves as the park’s community outreach coordinator. Her daughter and son followed in her footsteps and also became park rangers. An interpretive ranger, Ahmad Toure discusses how his park, Great Falls in Virginia, provides an oasis amidst a highly urbanized area.

Note: The aforementioned five videos can be found in the right rail of this and The Trail Posse home page.