How would your child help preserve America's 391 national parks? The National Park Foundation wants to find out, and is ready to hand out a family trip to the Everglades to the winner of this year's Junior Ranger Essay Contest—all in honor of National Park Week (April 19-27) and Earth Day (April 22nd.)
The National Park Foundation, partnering with Macy's, is challenging kids across America to get their ideas about how to protect the environment on paper, in no more than 500 words. The essay contest is open to kids 9-12 years old. But, you'd better get those thinking caps on fast, because the deadline for submission is March 14th.
This year's essay question is a biggie: “What can you do now to turn over a new leaf for the environment and help preserve our national parks?” Essays will be judged on how well they show understanding of the issue, originality, clarity and effectiveness of style and organization, and adherence to length rules.
The grand winner gets a three-day trip for four to the Everglades over Earth Day. But, that's not all. The winner will also get a chance to star in a Virtual Field Trip which tours through the exotic plants growing in the Everglades. This broadcast will be beamed over the Internet to 30 million kids in classrooms across the country. “The Virtual Field Trip is a program we've had for a while, but thought it would be really exciting if a grand prize winner could host it,” says Anne Marek, director of public relations for the Foundation.
What's so special about the Everglades? This subtropical refuge, located in southwestern Florida, is filled with unique wildlife that will show you and your family first hand about the delicate balance between man and nature.
Second place winners receive a $500 Macy’s shopping spree, a National Park Camping Kit and an America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreation Federal Lands Pass.
The National Park Foundation gets something out of the contest, too: in addition to getting some great ideas on how to save the planet, they also spread the message that national parks belong to everyone. “More than 100 years ago, it was ordinary citizens that decided to set these special places aside, and this is a way to help kids learn about the history of our country and feel proud of our shared heritage,” Marek says.
Essays can be submitted online at www.nationalparks.org. Winners will be announced April 14th.