Haleakala National Park’s new Junior Ranger Activity Book will be unveiled at a “Meet the Authors” event this Sunday, Aug. 30 at the Headquarters Visitor Center in the Summit District. The new book, the centerpiece of the park’s Junior Ranger program, was recently revised by six-year-old Eliot Carter and his mom, Lisa Carter, as part of a home school project.
Eliot and his mom rewrote the Junior Ranger book, with oversight and input from park staff. Eliot, his parents and local community families field tested the activities for the project, which was led by park education specialist Katelyn Thomson. In addition, local home school students provided much of the artwork for the revised book.
“I enjoyed doing the meetings with the rangers and getting to talk about ideas,” said Eliot. “I hope the kids that come to the park enjoy the Junior Ranger program more. I hope they learn about native birds and mollusks. We got to come up with cool ideas.”
Prior to revising the book, Eliot had completed the Haleakala Junior Ranger program 13 times. He has earned Junior Ranger badges in seven national parks. His mom Lisa said she really enjoyed watching Eliot bring his child’s imagination and enthusiasm to the project.
“He taught us grownups a lot about what kids think is fun and what inspires kids to learn,” Lisa Carter said. “I also enjoyed collaborating with rangers from all areas of the park.”
To complete the Junior Ranger program, visitors can request a free Activity Book at any Haleakala National Park visitor center. Participants earn badge points based on age and there is no age limit; badge points indicate how difficult an activity is. The book can also be downloaded at Nps.gov/hale/learn/kidsyouth/beajuniorranger.htm for people who wish to learn more about Haleakala but aren’t able to visit the park in person.
There are 19 activities to choose from in the book including: Which Moku Are You In?; Gifts from the Land and Sea; Flight of the Nene; Snail Trail; and Stump the Ranger. Activities can be completed in any part of the park. After completing the requirements, participants are sworn in as Junior Rangers and awarded a badge. People who complete the downloaded version can mail the completed book back to the park in order to receive a badge.
“This project is a great example of creatively reaching out to and partnering with the local community,” said superintendent Natalie Gates. “Visitors of all ages will benefit from this new program.”
The book contains a Hawaiian language pronunciation guide and the Junior Ranger pledge is written in both Hawaiian and English. Ranger Thomson was awarded a $5,000 Superintendent’s Grant to revise, design and print the book, which was last updated in 2002.
The goal of National Park Service Junior Ranger programs is to inspire the next generation of park stewards through self-guided activities that focus on the resources and importance of national parks. The origin of Junior Ranger programs dates back to 1930 when a Yosemite park naturalist started a Junior Naturalist School. Today, Junior Ranger programs exist throughout the national park system.
The “Meet the Authors” event runs from 11am to 2pm. The Headquarters Visitor Center is located approximately one mile past the Summit Entrance Station.
Photo courtesy of Haleakala National Park Service