As the actual birthday for the National Park Service approaches, talk of centennial festivities and duties crowds the visitor centers here at Grand Teton National Park. Rangers in my district, Jenny Lake, have to develop our own centennial talks and present them at Signal Mountain, a popular destination for many visitors. Although Jenny Lake is averaging 3000+ visitors a day, it is still a daunting thought to present at another district that is so well visited.

On the other hand, this program brings about the opportunity to really sit down and learn about the history of the park system as I prepare to choose my topic. It’s fascinating and inspiring to trace back these parks to such influential people like John Muir, Henry David Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Reading their early philosophies on man and nature makes it much easier to understand how political powerhouses like Coolidge and Roosevelt could turn their concerns to preserving pieces of land we now know as our National Parks.

From military to monument, it has been a long history of changing perspectives that has led us to a new drive for peace in nature. It’s a desire we all share in this day and age as technology allows everything from social conflict to work to flood into our lives and follow us home. With such a pressure, I believe our parks will be coveted for many more years to come which gives the centennial goal to “connect with and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters, and advocates” a strong foundation to begin with as the National Park Service makes themselves known through social media and interpretive programs like the one I am about to embark on.

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