- Associated Press - Thursday, April 14, 2016

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - Saturday marks the start of National Park Week, actually nine days of celebrating all that is good with the National Park system.

The week, which includes special programs and free admission to all 410 park units, will run through April 24.

While the week is celebrated every year, this year’s includes events tied to the 100th anniversary of the creation of the National Park Service.

“We have an amazing variety of special events taking place during the centennial,” National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said in a prepared statement. “Some commemorate our first hundred years, but many others look to the future, to the next 100 years, and will help connect with and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters and advocates. It is through them that America’s lands and stories will be preserved and passed on to future generations.”

The staff at Mount Rainier National Park has a couple of programs planned, including a chance to meet some park experts and an opportunity for the millennial generation to learn about the park.

From 4-5 p.m. April 18-21, the park will hold Jamming with a Ranger at the National Park Inn at Longmire. A ranger or resource expert will talk about the work that they do regarding wildlife, volunteers, park geology and geohazards, and archaeology. The inn will provide hot drinks, scones and jams made by park rangers.

“It will be a great opportunity for visitors to talk one on one with park experts on the various topics,” said Kathy Steichen, the park’s chief of interpretation. “This is a chance to people to meet some of our staff that they normally would not see when visiting the park.”

Steichen said it also is a chance for visitors to learn about the different career opportunities offered at the park.

“There are so many different career paths, from engineering to budget to concession management to carpentry. We hope during the centennial year we can spread the word on the diversity of employment opportunities in the park.”

On April 24, the park will host Mountain Meetup. Touted through the park’s social media outlets, the event is a chance to introduce the park to the millennial generation.

Taking place at Paradise, the activities will take place from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. The programs for visitors ages 20-30 include three climbing guide services sharing information and activities on what they do, games in the snow and short snowshoe walks. Staff from the Mount Rainier Institute will be assisting with the events.

In addition to those events, the park will also open for the week the Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center at Paradise. Park staff and volunteers will be on hand to talk about the park, while the cafe and gift shop will be open on the weekend.

Nationally, the week begins with National Junior Ranger Day. Parks will host Saturday youth activities and hand out a new Centennial Junior Ranger booklet and badge. Throughout the week, many parks will also host Every Kid in a Park events, which encourage fourth-grade students to visit national parks and other public lands by offering a free annual pass.

The Olympia National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles will hold a number of activities from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. that day. There will be ranger-led hikes through the forest, craft projects, games with rangers, a scavenger hunt, camping skills demonstrations, search and rescue personnel on hand and more.

Youth visiting Mount Rainier that day will also have a chance to pick up the booklet and earn a pin.

The park also is a partner with Washington CoastSavers, which will be holding its Washington Coast Cleanup April 21. People interested in cleaning beaches from Long Beach to the Strait of Juan De Fuca can go to coastsavers.org.

There will be a chance to learn about what creatures live in Puget Sound by taking part in Underwater Junior Ranger Day from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. The event, led by Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve, will take place at the Junior Ranger tent at Ebey’s Landing State Park. Children can earn underwater ranger and centennial badges. A Discover Pass will be needed to enter the state park.

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The original story can be found on The News Tribune’s website: https://bit.ly/1qjJCvu


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