Sponsored Post – from the National Parks Conservation Association
This editorial was written by Chloe Crumley, Texas Advocacy Fellow with the National Parks Conservation Association
June marks the midway point of a year. It is the time to pause and reflect on the past six months – What have we accomplished? What did we discover? What have we learned? By reflecting on the first half of the year we can reevaluate those New Year resolutions and make better goals for the next six months… and one valuable goal to have for 2017 is advocacy.
Advocating means to speak up for and be a supporter of a cause. One cause that needs our special attention is national parks. Here in Texas we have 16 national park sites. These treasures move across the state from the dry heat of the Chihuahuan Desert, to mountains built from layers of fossil reefs, to sandy shorelines with baby turtles. You can discover Columbian mammoth fossils and understand causes and consequences of the Mexican-American War. With 16 national parks in our state, there is at least one within two hours of every major city.
National parks are special to our state because they share our story of the past. They help us open our hearts and minds to what came before us so we can better shape and protect our future. Unfortunately, these treasured places are not receiving the type of care they need to be sustainable. Their list of maintenance issues is growing—this is called the maintenance backlog. This includes things such as improving campsites, bridges, trails, roadways, visitor centers, and much more. Currently, Texas has a maintenance backlog of $157 million.
Parks need someone to speak up for them, someone like you to advocate for them.
While that may sound nebulous, there are some direct ways you can act. In the past year, I found my voice for the national parks thanks to National Parks Conservation Association and Naturals Leaders Network. As a millennial, I understand I can use Twitter to retweet someone speaking my truth or Instagram to post an insta-worthy picture, but I never found a way for my voice to make a true difference on something I cared deeply about.
Through these organizations, I was mentored to become a better advocate. My voice was guided in the right direction to be heard and I was provided with a network of individuals who share my same passions. Over the past year, I found strength I did not know I had and knew I needed to share it, so I became a mentor to engage younger stewards. It is important for our generation, to make sure we seek mentors to shape us into leaders and then turn around to shape mentees.
I encourage you to find your voice in 2017 and advocate, in particular for our national parks. If you’re looking for ways to start, here are some actions you can take:
- Call your member of congress
- Join a national park friend group
- Become a member of an advocacy group like NPCA
- Find a Mentor, Be a Mentor
Since their founding in 1919, the National Parks Conservation Association has been the independent, nonpartisan voice working to strengthen and protect America’s favorite places.
With more than a million members and supporters beside them, NPCA is the voice of America’s national parks, working to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for present and future generations. You can learn more about NPCA (as well as how to get involved with their park conservation efforts) here>>
Please note – editorials are written by guest writers to inform and educate the community on a variety of different viewpoints. However, they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Austin EcoNetwork.