Despite windy weather and occasional snow squalls, over 250 supportive parents and enthusiastic kids traveled to the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center at Grand Teton National Park on Saturday, April 20th, to take part in National Junior Ranger Day activities geared toward youth and their introduction to national parks.
This marked the fourth year that park staff joined forces to celebrate Junior Ranger Day. The Grand Teton Association and Grand Teton National Park Foundation both donated funding to help support this special educational program at the start of National Park Week. Fully 90 Junior Ranger badges and/or patches were issued to deserving kids who participated in this community outreach event.
Most of the individual park divisions participated in the day’s activities. Teton Interagency firefighters arrived with a structural fire engine; park maintenance employees brought their hefty snow plows and rotary snow removal equipment; law enforcement rangers came with their traditional patrol vehicles; emergency medical technicians arrived in an ambulance; and park biologists brought a culvert trap used for the live capture of black and grizzly bears. Through display of these diverse park vehicles, families learned about what it takes to operate Grand Teton throughout the year, and how NPS employees carry out their respective jobs to preserve park resources and keep visitors safe.
The division of interpretation offered an animal Olympics game, a ranger bootcamp obstacle course, and a mountaineering exercise at a climbing exhibit. Families also visited a touch table with various animal skins, skulls, and antlers; tried on a ranger uniform; heard tales at a story corner; and watched a special mountain man presentation.
There was also a game where kids searched for "mini rangers" (small ranger cartoons) hidden throughout the visitor center. Children earned a prize if they found a certain number of these mini rangers. In addition, professional bird handlers from the Teton Raptor Center provided live demonstrations with birds of prey currently residing at their rehabilitation facility in Jackson Hole.
New this year, the foundation donated funds to provide a free shuttle from Jackson, Wyoming. Some families took advantage of this service to reach the Discovery Center, 12 miles north of Jackson. Expectations are that use of the free shuttle will increase in future years.