It has been quite an adventure to explore how the National Park Service works to share and preserve history and nature with visitors. As I toured through Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Shenandoah National Historical Park, and Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park, I learned about numerous initiatives that seek to fulfill the NPS mission. Each site had a little bit of different focus whether it be history or nature… but all strove to communicate effectively with visitors and protect their particular area for future generations.
Ways to Preserve:
- Develop partnerships with other organizations
- Get visitors involved and teach them to respect their surroundings
- Put environmental laws and programs in place to protect nature
- Research and restore historical buildings
Ways to Share:
- Provide education programs for visitors
- Establish museums so visitors will gain a better understanding for park history
- Perform reenactments to draw visitors into time period
- Create visual diagrams to clarify ideas
- Provide educational materials like pamphlets and maps
In simple terms, balancing is the key to the National Parks’ success! It all comes back to the National Park Service’s mission to:
“… promote and regulate the use of the… national parks… which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations” (National Park Service Organic Act, 16 U.S.C.1.).
Although the goals presented in the mission statement seem to compete with one another, the NPS has taken great efforts to balance them. The NPS Symbol visually shows the balancing act that parks perform. The bison and sequoia tree represent animals and plants, the mountains and lake stand for human recreational enjoyment, and the encompassing arrowhead represents historical focus and preservation. To learn more about my project, visit my blog at http://exploringshenandoah.wordpress.com/.