Last month, NPT was the recipient of a grant from Union Pacific Railroad thanks to the efforts of Ann Gentle, senior manager of automotive operations. Ann was selected among the company's 45,000 employees as a finalist in their annual Chairman's Environmental Award, which was established to recognize a Union Pacific employee demonstrating outstanding environmental awareness, leadership and responsibility.
After careful research, Ann selected NPT to receive the grant for our work to connect kids to the outdoors and also for our top A- ranking with Charity Watch - a nationally prominent charity rating and evaluation service that helps donors make informed giving decisions.
Ann's passion for the outdoors developed as a young child backpacking with her family. Ann has shared her passion for the outdoors with her three children who all enjoy camping and hiking. In fact, they are all "highpointers", hiking to the highest point in each state they visit - 26 so far! However, Ann refers to her group as the "slowpointers", given that half of their hikes involved a small child in a backpack carrier or negotiating with a slightly older one to "just take 10 more steps."
"The National Park System is one of our country's greatest resources. We are blessed with acre upon acre of incredible natural beauty. After a few days with the cell phones and alarm clocks and electronic games turned off, we turn into a family of upturned faces, seeing the flora and fauna around us as if everything is new and there just for us. When you see your five-year-old squeal over the discovery of a frog hidden under a leaf in the Smoky Mountains, or listen to the teenager, who has memorized all the different types of cactus in Big Bend and delights in describing the details ('that's leguchilla, also known as the "shin-ripper"'), you fall in love with your children - and this country - all over again. Spending time in nature returns us to ourselves," stated Ann.
The gift will be used to support NPT's Kids to Parks Day National Scholarship program and will enable under-served children to explore local, state or national parks in their community. Thank you Ann for your help to preserve parks today and create park stewards for tomorrow!