Pioneer: Alex Warneke
The Park Service connects with the next generation
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Centennial Ambassador, National Park Service | 25, San Diego, California
“The Park Service realizes that things can’t carry on as they have been if we are to connect with the upcoming generation. That’s the idea behind the Centennial Ambassador program: we were brought in to shake things up. Not everyone likes change, but we have to reach young people on their level.
National Parks Centennial100 reasons to love the parks (and a few things we’d improve)
“When I started working with Cabrillo National Monument, the Facebook page wasn’t being fully managed, we didn’t have Instagram, and there wasn’t a good understanding of the power of social media. The park was pressed for time and resources, so I suggested a high school internship program. It’s not typical volunteerism—we have students creating a video series on our YouTube channel, and I’ve been collaborating with nonprofit charter schools. These are kids who know how to code video games, how to use 3-D printers. Three high school girls grew our Instagram following fourfold in four months.
“But it’s not just about reaching new people—you have to connect them to the parks so they’re invested, so they’re no longer just ‘visitors.’ ”