Happy Birthday National Park Service!

August 22nd, 2016 by Live Well Omaha Kids

Midwest Parks graphicThe National Park Service invites visitors of all ages to join in the celebration of its 100th birthday.  With special events across the country and free admission to all 412 national parks from August 25 through August 28, the NPS is encouraging everyone to #FindYourPark / #EncuentraTuParque for the centennial.

On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the act that created the National Park Service “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for future generations.”

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of that moment and to look ahead to the next 100 years, in early 2015 the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation launched the Find Your Park / Encuentra Tu Parque movement.  Inspiring people from all backgrounds to celebrate and support America’s national parks and community-based programs, #FindYourPark / #EncuentraTuParque invites people to discover and share their own unique connections to our nation’s natural landscapes, vibrant culture, and rich history.

Amy and Paige Southwick at HOME- signed releaseFive Reasons You Should Visit a National Park Soon:

  1. They’re affordable. Park entrance fees will be waived nationwide from August 25 through August 28 to encourage everyone to celebrate the NPS 100th birthday.  Over half of our 412 parks are free every day.
  2. They’re not far away. We have 412 national parks across the country, and 5 are in Nebraska.  Some of America’s most special places are within driving distance.
  3. They can help you be healthier. All parks–urban and wildland–are cornerstones of people’s mental, physical, and spiritual health, social well-being, and sustainability of the planet.
  4. You’ll learn a lot. National Parks are America’s largest classrooms.
  5. There are lots of fun things for kids to do. The Junior Ranger program is an activity-based program conducted in almost all park.  Kids earn badges for learning about the parks and helping to protect them.

We’re doing lots of special things to celebrate 100 years of national parks, including three special events in Omaha:

Tuesday, August 23 at 7:00pm –  the National Park Service and Film Streams will present a free screening of three short films inspired by national parks, followed by a panel discussion featuring director Chuck Dunkerly.  Free tickets should be reserved in advance at http://www.filmstreams.org/film/three-shorts-national-park-service-centennial/.  The National Park Service will serve birthday cake and set up a fun “Find Your Park” booth during the screening at the Ruth Sokolof Theater, 1340 Mike Fahey Street.

MWRO building with bannerWednesday, August 24 – join the Omaha Postmaster at the Midwest Regional Office as he unveils 16 national park stamps designed for the centennial.  The unveiling and press conference, including the Midwest Region Centennial Coordinator and other speakers, will take place at 10:00am.  A special pictorial postmark on a commemorative envelope will be distributed free to attendees of the press conference.  Following the press conference, the envelope will be available to the public as well as sheets of stamps for purchase (cash or check only).  The Midwest Regional Office is located at 601 Riverfront Drive.

Thursday, August 25 – the Midwest Regional Office and Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail will host a naturalization ceremony for 40 new citizens followed by a centennial celebration in the visitor center.  The naturalization ceremony will start at 10:00am and include remarks from a Theodore Roosevelt reenactor.  Dubbed the conservation president, he will give an additional presentation at 11:30am and be available for photos and conversation until 1:00pm.  Refreshments will be served from 8:00am-2:00pm.

Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail’s visitor center is in Omaha, right next to the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. During the summer, the visitor center is open 8am to 5pm on weekdays and 9am-5pm on weekends and holidays. The trail itself is over 3,700 miles long, and visitors can retrace the Lewis and Clark Expedition’s path from Illinois to the Pacific Ocean and back.

Other close-by national parks:

  • Homestead National Monument of America- Beatrice, NE- 1 hour, 45 minutes
  • Missouri National Recreational River- Yankton, SD- 3 hours
  • Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site- Topeka, KS- 3 hours
  • Harry S. Truman National Historic Site- Independence, MO- 3 hours
  • Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve- Strong City, KS- 4 hours
  • Fort Scott National Historic Site- Fort Scott, KS- 4 hours
  • Pipestone National Monument- Pipestone, MN- 4 hours

Celebrate 100 years of national parks, and join the movement to protect and enjoy our nation’s most special places.  For additional information about national parks in the Midwest, please visit nps.gov/mwro and join the conversation on Twitter @MidwestNationalParks and facebook.com/MidwestNationalParks.

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