National Park Teen Ambassadors program launches with funding from National Park Foundation America's Best Idea grant

Voyageurs National Park Joins 48 Parks Across the Country to Participate In Foundation’s 2012 Program

2008 Fall Volunteer Rendezvous U of MN Crookston student with completed cage

Voyageurs National Park has been selected as one of 49 national parks participating in the 2012 America’s Best Idea program sponsored by the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks. Inspired by the critically-acclaimed Ken Burns documentary The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, the America’s Best Idea grant program funds park projects designed to connect diverse, under-engaged populations throughout the United States with their national parks in innovative and meaningful ways.

“We are proud to provide the much needed support to create unique opportunities for all Americans to personally connect with their national parks,” said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “The America’s Best Idea grants are often the catalyst for extraordinary experiences that develop into lifelong relationships with our national parks for the program participants

The grant will support the first year of the National Park Teen Ambassadors program in Minnesota.  Twenty teenagers from Voyageurs National Park’s gateway communities and the Twin Cities will embark on an outdoor adventure and learning experience in Voyageurs National Park and on the Mississippi River with Wilderness Inquiry and National Park Service rangers.  The teens will camp, canoe, complete outdoor stewardship projects, learn about the history and ecology of these sites, build leadership skills, and form teams to advise the National Park Service on better  ways to connect with their age group.  In the fall, the ambassadors will visit sixth grade classrooms to talk about their summer experiences and the importance of these public lands.

Voyageurs National Park will launch the Teen Ambassadors project this June. This program was designed with collaborators and financial sponsors Wilderness Inquiry, Voyageurs National Park Association, the park’s nonprofit partner, and the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area.

"We are very excited to see our first year of teen ambassadors experience our special places in Minnesota. I believe it will be a learning experience for all involved that will create lifetime memories." said Michael Ward, Superintendent of Voyageurs National Park.

For a full listing of participating parks and program descriptions, please visit the National Park Foundation website.

The National Park Foundation and Voyageurs National Park wish to thank L.L. Bean, DISNEY, the Anschutz Foundation, and the Ahmanson Foundation for their generous support of the America’s Best Idea program.

About the National Park Foundation: You are the owner of 84 million acres of the world’s most treasured memorials, landscapes, ecosystems, and historic sites -- all protected in America’s nearly 400 national parks.  Chartered by Congress, the National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks.  We work hand in hand with the National Park Service to connect you and all Americans to the parks, and to make sure that they are preserved for the generations who will follow.  Join us in supporting your national parks -- this is your land. For more information on the National Park Foundation or how you can support and protect America’s national parks, please visit www.nationalparks.org.

For more information about Voyageurs National Park visit www.nps.gov/voya.

For more information about the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area visit www.nps.gov/miss.

Wilderness Inquiry’s mission is to provide outdoor adventure experiences that inspire personal growth, community integration, and enhanced awareness of the environment for people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds.  They are a leader in connecting diverse under-engaged populations with the national parks.

Voyageurs National Park Association is the nonprofit conservation and program partner of Voyageurs National Park, helping each new generation discover, sustain and enjoy the Park.