In August 2016 the National Park Service is turning 100 and to mark this significant anniversary, national park’s across the U.S. are celebrating, including our neighboring national park, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

“The National Park Service is celebrating 100 years of sharing America’s special places and helping people make meaningful connections to nature, history, and culture,” says Tom Ulrich Deputy Superintendent of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. “With our 2016 centennial, we are inviting a new generation to discover the special places that belong to us all. We are encouraging people not familiar with the National Park Service to find their park.”

MyNorth’s Eliza Foster talked to Tom to learn more about the Find Your Park initiative including a local collaboration with the National Writers Series.


What is Find Your Park?

Find Your Park is a movement to encourage people to rediscover their national parks by finding their own personal connections to the ideas, places, and stories they preserve. It helps celebrate the NPS Centennial and its goal to connect with and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters, and advocates. The most basic concept of Find Your Park is that the importance of the park is defined by the people – not by the agency celebrating its birthday – and the best way to help people discover the parks is by encouraging EVERYone to share what they find important about them.


How can people get involved?

Visit this website and share your national park experiences using #FindYourPark (Obama just tweeted about Find Your Park yesterday!) Locally, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has a Find Your Park webpage as well.


How old will SBD be when the NPS turns 100?

The Lakeshore was established in October, 1970, so we will be 45 when the NPS turns 100 on August 25, 2016. Our 50th anniversary will be in 2020!


You had the theme of “Find your Park” for last week’s National Park Week and had several activities going on then. How will Find Your Park continue into this summer?

Because Find Your Park depends so much on our visitors sharing their own experiences, we will continue to ask them to do that as they visit the Lakeshore this year and next. We will also, of course, try to add some interesting new opportunities for visitors by creating new programs, or re-imagining our existing fun to tie in to the NPS Centennial. We will also be building some exciting new partnerships with area events and organizations, just as we have done with the NWS.



Tom Ulrich at a National Writers Series event with author Garth Stein at the City Opera House in Traverse City

Can you talk about your collaboration with the National Writers Series?

Director Jill Tewsley of the National Writers Series (NWS) in Traverse City, Michigan attended a NPS Centennial event we hosted here at the Lakeshore to invite community partners to further mutual goals by promoting the Find Your Park movement. As a result, NWS started a monthly book club called “Find Your Park… in a great book.” This program suggests books, by contemporary authors, connected to the NPS in some way and provides background information and discussion guides that help explore that connection. As a result of this budding partnership, the NWS also plans to take its successful young writers program, called “Front Street Writers” out to the Lakeshore, where the creative writing students will Find Their Park by using the place-based inspiration of the park as prompts for new works.


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