This past summer the National Park Service celebrated its 100th birthday, a tremendous milestone for any organization. One of the main challenges that the National Parks face as they look to the future is how to attract more minority visitors to the parks, as current park visitors are overwhelmingly white.
The National Park Service has a number of initiatives in place that they hope will bolster attendance, recognizing minority history in existing parks, adding more language inclusivity, and recruiting more minority rangers. The Park Service is hoping that once people visit a park, they will fall in love. However, I can’t help but think that more effort is needed to grow minority attendance at the parks. Getting to a National Park is quite an effort and without a solid idea of what the National Parks can offer, people are going to be disinclined to visit at all. And if you can’t get them in the gate, they won’t fall in love.