5 Gifts for National Park Fans

National parks visitor numbers continue to rise as more people discover our nation’s treasures.  As the season of gift-giving starts, national parks can provide some unique gifts for all the fans in your lives. With many options out there, it can be hard deciding on the perfect gift.

I have searched and rounded up these unique ideas for your friends and families who love the national parks suited for a variety of ages and at reasonable prices:  

1. Yahtzee: National Parks Edition game

It’s just like the original Yahtzee game, but has unique, colorful dice and a barrel-themed cup. A portion of the proceeds for this game benefit the National Parks Foundation.

2.  Uncommon Ground’s Redwood & Saguaro Crystal Growing Kit

Kids will love this science fun of crystals forming on paper in this cool kit.

3. Turtle Tube: An Erutuf National Park Novel by Kathy Arnold Cherry

In this new children’s book, siblings Reese and Dean’s wild adventure at Erutuf National Park is sure to expand the reader’s imagination and, likely, a curiosity about animals and the world through a magical national park.

4. Swiftwick National Parks socks

Instead of giving boring black socks, add some splash to someone’s wardrobe with one of the 11 national parks.

5. Park Project’s National Parks Candles

Why not bring the scent of a certain national park to someone’s home? Give the unique scents of redwoods or lodgepole pines to a friend or family to enjoy.

Happy gift shopping for your national park fans!

5 Ways Kids Can Make a Difference with the Climate

The United Nations Climate Change Conference recently took place in Glasgow. According to the U.N., “The Earth is now about 1.1°C warmer than it was in the 1800s. We are not on track to meet the Paris Agreement target to keep global temperature from exceeding 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. That is considered the upper limit to avoid the worst fallout from climate change.”

These national headlines and statistics often make children feel helpless. Yet, children can make a difference today. My children’s novel provides an adventure that will help build children’s curiosity about animals and the world around them.

Here are 5 tips for helping children make a difference with climate change today:

  • Walk or bike to school. Find a classmate in the neighborhood to make it more fun.
  • Reuse returned homework and school paperwork as wrapping paper or letters for family. Grandparents, aunts, or uncles can see your old math homework wrapping up their gifts.
  • Avoid taking plastic bottled drinks and use the fountains or reusable containers.
  • Turn off the lights every time you leave the room. Turn it into a game or contest about family members keeping lights off.
  • Find rocks out in nature and decorate them as gifts for loved ones. Family loves homemade gifts especially for the holidays.

Children can take on these simple actions and feel a part of the community and that they’re making a difference. In the end, we all want to make a difference, even children.

Veterans Day

This Thursday, we celebrate and honor our military veterans as a federal holiday.

Many of our national parks have direct connections to the American military. In fact, we have dozens of national sites, battlefields, and parks that honor American veterans.

In honor of this day, the National Park Service invites all visitors to visit any National Park Service site for free on Veterans Day.

World War II Memorial in Washington DC

Take a moment to honor, thank, and remember our veterans on this day.

Happy Veterans Day! And thank you to all the brave veterans out there!

White House

Happy 229th anniversary to the White House!

Construction started on this iconic building back 229 years ago in Washington DC. Every President except George Washington has resided here since 1800. The White House stands about 55,000 square feet, six floors, and has 132 rooms.

A few fun facts about the White House:

• John Quincy Adams established the first flower garden.
• There are 35 bathrooms, 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases and 3 elevators in the White House.
• It would take 570 gallons of paint to cover the entire outside surface of the White House.
• A swimming pool was added to the White House in 1933 to help polio-stricken Franklin Roosevelt exercise his upper body.  In 1969, Richard Nixon had the pool filled in to create an area for press to gather. Gerald Ford had an outdoor pool built in 1975.
• President Carter had the first computer and laser printer installed in the White House in 1978.
• The White House has a bowling alley, flower shop, dentist office, and carpenter’s office located on site.

Happy 229th!

Dinosaur National Monument

What do you call a T. Rex who hates losing? A saur loser! 🙂

Happy 106th anniversary to Dinosaur National Monument!

A few years ago, we traveled from California to Colorado. We really enjoyed this national monument! From the Quarry Visitor Center, we took a shuttle up to the Quarry Exhibit Hall. In this hall, you can see approximately 1,500 dinosaur bones.

In addition to this hall, you can check out carvings in the rocks, called petroglyphs, left by the Fremont people nearly 1,000 years ago. You can also take a hike, go camping, go fishing, or watch wildlife like elk or bighorn sheep there.

Definitely check out this national monument if you’re in the Utah or Colorado area.

To celebrate this anniversary or if you can’t wait to visit there, click here and check out their Junior Ranger activity book. 

National Trails System Act

The National Trails System Act created the National Trails System back today in 1968.  The Act created national trails to promote the enjoyment and appreciation of trails while encouraging greater public access. The Act established four classes of trails: national scenic trails, national historic trails, national recreation trails, and side or connecting trails.

The first two national scenic trails established under the Act were the Appalachian and the Pacific Crest trails. These two trails cover almost 5,000 miles between the two trails and go through some of our nation’s most beautiful areas. Today, the system consists of more than 60,000 miles.

Enjoy a fun map! Click here for a map of all the trails in the system.

To celebrate this 53rd anniversary, go and get out on a trail today!

Devils Postpile National Monument, CA

Sequoia National Park

Happy 131st anniversary to Sequoia National Park! On this day, President Harrison signed legislation creating America’s second national park. It was the first national park created to protect the giant sequoia trees from logging. 

At this time, the KNP Complex fires are still growing in the national park and the surrounding areas. Lightning caused these two fires back on September 9th. As a result of the fires, the parks evacuated employees from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and the parks are closed to the public. 

John Muir reflected that giant sequoia groves are “not like places, they are like haunts.”

To celebrate this anniversary and help the national park at this time, you can make a donation to the Sequoia Parks Conservancy. As stated on their website, donations to this fund will support sequoia conservation, lost habitat restoration, repairs to damaged historic and cultural sites, trail work, and wildfire mitigation efforts.

Park Ranger Generator

Park rangers are the key people responsible for protecting our great national parks. Their duties range from law enforcement to education to many other responsibilities. They keep these amazing national parks going every day.

In my new children’s book, Turtle Tube: An Erutuf National Park Novel, Reese and Dean experience park rangers in the magical national park.

Today, you can create and draw your own park ranger. Every park ranger needs a national park with animals and items to use. Find out your location, animal with you, and accessory using this Park Ranger Generator. You can even draw and make your generated park ranger on this pdf.

Click the link below for the pdf or visit the blog’s section, Future Park Rangers Fun, for this pdf and some other fun activities. Have fun!

For my park ranger generator, I am a park ranger in a valley surrounded by bighorn sheep and with a book. 🙂 What did you get? Share your drawings with me as I’d love to see your park rangers!

Happy 100th!

Happy 100th birthday to Park Ranger Betty Reid Soskin!

Ranger Soskin works with the National Park Service (NPS) assigned to the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California. She is the oldest National Park Ranger serving the United States and celebrating her birthday today!

According to the NPS, some of Betty’s other numerous accomplishments and accolades include:

  • In 1995, Betty was named “Woman of the Year” by the California State Legislature.
  • In 2005, she was named one of the nation’s ten outstanding women “Builders of communities and dreams” by the National Women’s History Project at ceremonies in both Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
  • In 2016, Betty received the Silver Medallion Award at the World War II Museum in New Orleans. There are only two women among 30 past recipients, the other is Elizabeth Dole. Later that year Betty received the Sierra Club’s prestigious Trailblazer Award, for a lifetime of service and barrier-breaking. A few weeks later, she attended the grand opening ceremony of the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture, as Interior Secretary Jewell’s guest.
  • In 2018, Betty was an honoree at the Makers Conference in Hollywood where feminists from across the nation gather annually to recognize “Makers.” Later that year she published her book, Sign My Name to Freedom, based on the blog she had been writing for the previous 10 years. The book recounts her experiences from childhood to the present.
  • In early 2019 a film produced by the Rosie the Riveter Trust, “No Time To Waste: The Urgent Mission of Betty Reid Soskin” was released. This documentary tells the story of her involvement with Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historic Park and the influence she has had on the NPS in telling untold stories, and in sharing her history in ways that inspire and challenge current social norms.

To celebrate her birthday and contributions, enjoy this video abut her reflections. Click here to see the video.

Happy birthday, Ranger Betty Reid Soskin!

Wilderness Act

On this day 57 years ago, Congress established the Wilderness Act in 1964. Congress wanted to protect undeveloped and wild areas as an enduring resource for the American people. Today, this act protects 111 million acres of wilderness preserving more than 800 wilderness areas in states from Alaska to Florida.

This act created the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) and immediately designated 54 areas into this system.  Some of the first wilderness areas created included Bridger Wilderness in Wyoming, Ansel Adams Wilderness in California, and Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota. Today, the National Park Service makes up about 56% of the land under NWPS with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management areas making up the rest.

Many benefits exist today from this land conservation including providing habitats for wildlife; clean air; clean drinking water; boosting local economies with tourism and recreation; and providing some really amazing places to escape and appreciate this great land here!

Fun fact: The largest wilderness area in the National Wilderness Preservation System is the Wrangell-St. Elias Wilderness, protecting more than nine million acres of Alaskan tundra and boreal forest.

Enjoy this anniversary and get out in the wilderness today!