Celebrate National Junior Ranger Day!

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The roots of the National Park Service Junior Ranger Program date back to the 1930s, when Yosemite National Park launched their Junior Naturalist Program. That program ran until 1954, during which time other national parks launched programs for young visitors. Over the years these programs evolved and a national standard for the Junior Ranger Program was created in 2005. In 2007 the National Park Service celebrated the first National Junior Ranger Day.

The tradition continues today as the National Park Service will celebrate National Junior Ranger Day on Saturday April 23, 2022. This years theme is “sPark Curiosity” as it encourages young people to explore things in the national parks that sparks their curiosity, and perhaps takes them on a new adventure along the way.

Many national parks are holding special Junior Ranger activities on National Junior Ranger Day. For example, Sequoia National Park is offering a number of free hands- on activities to celebrate this momentous day. This event will take place at the Foothills Visitor Center (which is located one mile past the Ash Mountain Entrance) from 10 AM to 3 PM. And participants will be eligible to win a special patch, pin or sticker.

Here’s how it all works. Participants will pick up a passport at the welcome tent, and then collect a stamp for each completed activity. Each activity takes about 10 to 20 minutes, and after you fill your passport you can collect your Junior Ranger award.

Some of the activities include:

  • Explore the park’s fire engines
  • Use a model helicopter to rescue people
  • Meet a mule and a horse who help carry supplies into the mountains
  • Test your ability to move in cold water
  • Dress like a Buffalo Soldier and play with old-fashioned toys
  • Test a remote controlled Jeep on an off-road obstacle course
  • Color your own spring wildflower
  • Create a constellation tube to see the stars

And if you can’t make it to the park, you can also participate virtually. Just download the junior ranger activity book at https://www.nps.gov/seki/learn/kidsyouth/beajuniorranger.htm . Then complete the activities and mail it in to receive your junior ranger badge by mail.

So whether you celebrate in-person or virtually, check to see what your favorite national park has to off on National Junior Ranger Day.

And for the record, I even earned my own Junior Ranger Badge a few years ago at Isle Royale National Park (https://emerginghorizons.com/become-a-junior-ranger-at-any-age/). So there really is no upper age limit for participants!

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