1 parent, 2 kids, 421 national parks: Expedition National Parks transports listeners on one family’s journey to discover the cultural, historical, and natural treasures of the U.S. Following the Junior Ranger motto of “Explore, Learn, and Protect,” their goal is inspiring more people to visit national parks, particularly the less visited ones. They hope to enlist more Junior Rangers of all ages to strengthen youth and family connections to nature and preservation and will explore the surprising connection of many park sites to diplomacy, ever more important in this interconnected world.
Discovering the National Parks by Train: Trails and Rails 20th Anniversary
October 2020 marks the twentieth anniversary of the Trials & Rails program, a partnership between Amtrak, the National Park Service (NPS) and the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences at Texas A&M University. Building on the rich relationship and traditions , Trails and Rails NPS volunteers on select trains share stories about parks and other places of interest along with the route. They help travelers make connections between what they are seeing out the window to American history and culture. The highlight of the episode is an interview with Jim , the original creator of the program who still heads the NPS involvement in the program. He describes the history of the program, the challenges posed by Covid-19 which have temporarily halted the program, and how they are reimagining the program for the 2021 season. We were fortunate to be passengers on a Trails and Rails Amtrak journey in 2017 so we know first-hand the positive impact of the program.
Check out videos from three of the Trails and Rails programs across the United States that were created to celebrate the anniversary: bit.ly/TandRvideo
Audio excerpts and Trails and Rails logo courtesy of the National Park Service
Summer Work Travel Program and the National Parks: Acadia National Park and Beyond
The second and final part of our series on the Summer Work Travel (SWT) program (bit.ly/SWTJ1) features Narmin and Javanshir from Azerbaijan and Adrian from Slovakia. All three were participants in the SWT which aims to allow foreign students "to share their culture and ideas with people of the United States through temporary work and travel opportunities." These students are issued J-1 visas and the program has a long history and is one of many people-to-people diplomacy programs which aim to promote mutual understanding. Javanshir enjoyed his first summer as a SWT participant so much that he convinced his sister and another friend to join the following summer (2019) when all three worked at the Jordan Pond House in Acadia National Park. Javanshir even baked some of the famous Jordan Pond House popovers! Adrian did not work at a national park but visited several NPS sites, including Zion National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, and Glacier National Park) during the travel portion of his experience in 2019.
Friendship, Cooperation, Diplomacy, and Unity: Chamizal National Memorial
Chamizal National Memorial is one of the most unique NPS sites. It is many things in one: an urban park, a performing arts center, and part of a cross-border park. Most of all it is a testament to the importance of diplomacy and a physical reminder of the peaceful settlement of a 100-year boundary dispute between the United States and Mexico. Congress established the memorial in 1966 to commemorate the successful diplomatic conclusion of the Chamizal issue and to celebrate cross-cultural friendship and goodwill. As the park’s website says, “We celebrate the cultures of the borderlands to promote the same mutual respect that helped to diplomatically resolve an international disagreement.” The name of this episode derives from the sections of the site’s Junior Ranger program.
Summer Work Travel Program and the National Parks: Two Seasons at Glacier NP
The Summer Work Travel program (bit.ly/SWTJ1) is one of several J-1 Exchange Visitor programs overseen by the U.S. Department of State. The Summer Work Travel program “provides foreign students with an opportunity to live and work in the United States during their summer vacation from college or university to experience and to be exposed to the people and way of life in the United States.” This week, Goksu, a fine arts university student from Ephesus, Turkey talks to us about her experiences over the three years she has done the program. She started in Newport, Rhode Island as a tour guide at The Breakers Mansion. She spent the 2018 and 2019 seasons as a server at Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park.
A Cultural Crossroads: Pecos National Historical Park
It wasn’t until we visited Pecos National Historical Park that we realized the great breadth of history represented: prehistoric ruins to the establishment of Pecos Pueblo to colonization and missionaries, which culminated in the Pueblo Revolt of 1860. The revolt’s success stands out as the only time European colonizers were expelled by Native Americans. The Spanish reconquered the area 12 years later. The Santa Fe Trail passed right by and of course there was a major Civil War Battle. Ranger Eric explains why this area is so important both culturally and historically.
The Most Important Fight You’ve Never Heard Of - Monocacy National Battlefield
In a wide-ranging discussion, Ranger Matt of Monocacy National Battlefield highlights the importance of not just the Battle of Monocacy but also of history and the long-term impacts of the Civil War. He describes the free audio tour available to visitors and discusses the impact of the National Park Service, its protection of battlefields, as well as some of his own personal favorite national park sites.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I’ve listened to only one podcast, and already it’s taught me a lot about the wars and how history is very important information!
What an amazing experience! I’m thrilled to be able to follow along on this adventure!!
What a gem of a podcast!
Such a wonderful perspective from both Junior Rangers Sienna and Keiran, who have the opportunity to see the wonderful vast American landscape through the eyes of its’ magnificent National Parks.
It is inspiring to hear these two engaged young adults who I am sure while learning a lot themselves are giving great insights. Hearing them explore the national parks, makes me want to explore them too.
Thank you for sharing your adventures with us and can’t wait for the next one!