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Reviewing My Speech on National Park's Diversity

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The purpose of my speech is to inform the audience about the diversity seen collectively in national parks. At the end of my speech the audience will know what race is predominantly found utilizing our national parks, along with which races are underrepresented in the Parks. They will also know what the NPS and other organizations are doing to increase diversity of users within the National Parks.

National parks are an important part of American society, they are scenic or historic areas of land that are set aside and protected by the government to “conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations” (NPS Organic Act, 1916). These parks are funded by American tax dollars, making every citizen a partial owner of the park. This means that every citizen of any race is welcome to visit these parks, yet the NPS is seeing a dramatic lack of diversity throughout the national park’s as a whole. This lack of diversity within users has been a problem that the NPS has been attempting to change since the 1970’s with very little luck.

There is a lack of diversity throughout the National Parks in the US.

In 2014 the national parks collectively had 292.8 million visitors. Nearly 80% of these visitors were white, while only 22% of visitors were minorities (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/12/opinion/sunday/diversify-our-national-parks.html?_r=0). This lack of diversity has been a problem within the park system since the 1970’s. Researchers are finally noticing contributing factors to this trend and are beginning to focus on encouraging more minorities to visit national parks.

There are 405 National Parks throughout the US and according the New York Times these parks had 292.8 million visitors last year. That may sound pretty impressive until you look at the data more closely. Out of all those visitors, 78% were white while only 22% represented minority groups such as African Americans, Asians, people of Hispanic decent and American Indians. This is a disappointing trend that the National Park Service has noticed with little change since the 70s. In order to change this trend and bring a more diverse group of visitors to these parks, researchers must figure out what is causing this lack of diversity in the National Parks.

To understand why minority groups are less likely to visit National Parks we must first look at who’s actually in the parks.

  1. To figure this out the NPS conducted 2 surveys, CSAP1 which was conducted in 2000 and CSAP2 which was conducted in 2008. These surveys contained the same questions so that their results could be compared against each other to monitor changes within park usage and users. The first question on the survey was ‘have you visited a national park within the past 2 years?’ and these were the results. *Insert table 2 from http://www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/docs/CompSurvey2008_2009RaceEthnicity.pdf. This table shows the relationship between the percent of each race in the total population compared to the percent of people of each race that had been to a national park within the past 2 years. This shows whether the race is being under represented or over represented within the parks. The two races that this raises concern for are African Americans and people of Hispanic descent.
  2. Aside from minority visitors, there is also a diversity issue with park staff. “According to a 2013 report by the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, 80 percent of NPS employees were white. And the National Park Foundation’s 22-member board, whose mission is to support the NPS through fundraising, has only four minorities” (http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2015/7/heres-why-americas-national-parks-are-so- white.html).

There is an obvious lack of diversity within the park that can be shown with hard data, between both visitors and rangers. The question for the NPS then becomes “why”?

  1. Well the second set of questions in the CSAP2 survey (only shows data from CSAP2 because a Spanish language option was not available for the survey in 2000) were asking non-visitors why they haven’t gone to a national park. The 3 top reasons between both African Americans and Hispanics happen to be the same. The main reason being “I just don’t know that much about NPS units”, the second reason is “The hotel and food costs at National Park System units are too high” and the last most common response is “It takes too long to get to any NPS unit from my home”. This means that there is a lack of knowledge about national parks, money and cost could be a big part of the NPS’s diversity issue.
  2. Another reason claimed to effect diversity in the parks is that minorities simply don’t feel welcomed. There are stereotypes haunting their race such as “blacks don’t do nature” and even jokes about “expect[ing] whites-only signs at the national park entrances”. These comments are cruel and although we are beyond the days of segregation, it has had a long term effect on people and African Americans still fear racist treatment of white park rangers.

After conducting research and examining data about diversity in the parks and why certain races have avoided national parks the NPS and other organizations began working toward a common goal of bringing minorities into the parks. This is an important goal because the national parks are important cultural and historic sites for US history and they thrive through people’s education and appreciation of them. The census bureau projects that by the year 2044 the US will have a majority non-white population. If this is true and the parks can’t get more diverse races to visit, than the NPS may be in trouble or cease to exist in the future.

One of the main reasons for the lack of diversity is that people simply don’t know about the parks. This means that the NPS can target diverse areas and promote themselves or hold environmental education classes in these locations.

  1. Individual leaders of diverse races are helping the park service by reaching out to their communities as well to target a new audience of visitors. For example Retired NFL player Darryl Haley was asked to speak at the Grand Canyon’s black history month celebration in 2013. This effort was so successful and enjoyable that he continues hosting outreach events in many of the National Parks. Park rangers have claimed that Darryl is “one of the pioneers moving forward what has been delayed, by re-connecting people of color with our public lands which will keep our public lands relevant, sustainable, protected and preserved for generations to come”.
  2. Since technology plays a big role in society today the NPS has begun to reach out to the public through media sources. The NPS and the National park service created a program called Find Your Park. This is a campaign that was started March 30th 2015 in order to connect people to parks through social media, education and advocacy events. This type of advertising is new to the NPS and its goal is to “introduce the parks to people unfamiliar with them and strengthen the connections with current visitors”.

The park service also believes that by creating programs that reach out to younger generations is a good way to bring in a more diverse crowd. If you get more students interested in parks at a young age, they are more likely to continue visiting as an adult and they’re more likely to bring friends and family so more people know about the parks.

  1. The NPS and National Park foundation is currently implementing an “Every Kid in a Park” program that’s running through the 2015-2016 school year.This program is designed to give every 4th grade student in the country (nearly 4million children) a free pass for to visit any national parks with their families. These passes are good for a year so they have the opportunity to visit as many locations as they wish.
  2. AlviSeda is a Recruiting Coordinator for Diversity Initiatives that is part of the Student Conservation association. This is a non-profit organization that aim to “provide a life changing experience for students coming from an inner city background who are unfamiliar with the great outdoors and conservation” (https://www.corpsnetwork.org/diversity-national-park-system). The goal for the end of this program is that the students will have the skills and training they need to become the next generation of conservation leaders, interesting in protecting our parks.

One of the main NPS goals has always been making national parks available and appealing to all people but the past few decades it has been clear that not all people are visiting the parks. After years of gathering and analyzing data, the NPS has finally come up with ideas to bring in a new crowd. Most of these ideas and programs came into effect after 2008 and new programs are continuously being created to make the parks more diverse. It may take years to see if these programs are effective but the NPS will continue to strive for visitors of all races.

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Reviewing my speech on national park’s diversity. (2018, December 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved November 29, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/reviewing-my-speech-on-national-parks-diversity/
“Reviewing my speech on national park’s diversity.” GradesFixer, 11 Dec. 2018, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/reviewing-my-speech-on-national-parks-diversity/
Reviewing my speech on national park’s diversity. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/reviewing-my-speech-on-national-parks-diversity/> [Accessed 29 Nov. 2022].
Reviewing my speech on national park’s diversity [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Dec 11 [cited 2022 Nov 29]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/reviewing-my-speech-on-national-parks-diversity/
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