NPT News - March 2012


Click here to learn more. NPS Photo.
NPT News

Our mission: Preserving parks today; Creating park stewards for tomorrow. 

NPT Welcomes Five New Board Members 

National Park Trust is very pleased to announce the election of Ronnie Gathers, Wayne Hill, Timothy Irons, David Markarian, and Fredric Walls to its Board of Trustees. The newest members of the NPT family come from diverse backgrounds – both professionally and personally. 
"We are delighted to welcome Ronnie, Wayne, Tim, Dave, and Fred to the board. They are passionate about the Trust's mission and the importance of protecting and preserving America's parks and engaging our youth with these iconic places. Their professional skills and areas of expertise will be important assets to our board, leadership council and staff as we work together to meet the goals of our new strategic plan," stated NPT Board Chair Bill Brownell.

Ronnie Gathers

Ronnie Gathers was appointed Director of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission’s Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation in November 2007. Mr. Gathers has worked for the Commission for 22 years. Prior to joining the Commission, he served in the military, and worked several years as a civilian recreation specialist with the U.S. Army’s Recreation Department. 

Mr. Gathers holds a Bachelor’s Degree in physical education and recreation from South Carolina State University, a Master’s Degree in administrative management from Bowie State University and graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government for Senior Executives in State and Local Government.

"I am excited to join the National Park Trust team. As a member of the board's Youth to Parks education committee, I am looking forward to connecting youth in Prince George’s County and across the nation to our valuable natural resources locally and nationally,” said Mr. Gathers.


Wayne Hill

Wayne Hill, an award-winning nationally recognized photographer, is founder of The HILL Art Group. His work focuses on the natural world and America’s magnificent national parks. He was privileged to study with several giants of the photographic art world including Ansel Adams, Eliot Porter, and David Muench.
Mr. Hill just completed his tenure as President and CEO of Leadership Fairfax, Inc. in Virginia. A graduate of Dartmouth College, he learned 4x5 camera technique while working for the college photographer.
“America’s parks are in my blood. I spent fifteen summers as a child roaming the land and waters of Acadia, worked for Ansel Adams in Yosemite as a young adult, and have traveled the country photographing our nation's parks as a professional for the past 40 years. What a privilege to help the NPT protect these treasures, and to introduce young people to the magic of our parks,” stated Mr. Hill.
Timothy Irons
Timothy Irons is a shareholder at the Los Angeles based law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. At the firm, he is a member of the natural resources, water and land use groups. His practice focuses on California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) administrative review and litigation.
Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Irons was a partner with Burke, Williams & Sorensen in Los Angeles. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of California, Davis and his Juris Doctorate with distinction from the University of the Pacific's McGeorge School of Law.
"Growing up outdoors in Hawaii, I have great respect for the majesty and beauty of nature. I look forward to the opportunity to help preserve and promote awareness of our national park treasures here in California and across the country," remarked Mr. Irons.
David Markarian
David Markarian serves as Vice President of Government Affairs at NextEra Energy, Inc. where he oversees NextEra’s federal government relationships. Prior to joining NextEra Energy, Mr. Markarian spent a quarter century providing in-court and appellate representation to corporate clients and individuals in the state and federal courts throughout the United States and nearly six years as litigation and regulatory counsel for NextEra Energy, focusing on a wide variety of energy industry issues. 
Mr. Markarian received Bachelor of Science degrees in history and political science from Florida State University, and his Juris Doctorate from the University of Miami.
"I look forward to working with the board and staff at National Park Trust to address the growing disconnect between our youth and our natural landscapes. Furthermore, as a father I understand the importance of protecting these special places for my children and for their children," stated Mr. Markarian.
Fredric Walls

Fredric Walls is a Senior Investment Manager for the Foundations and Endowments Specialty Practice of SunTrust Bank. Mr. Walls has over 20 years of investment experience. Prior to his current position, he was with PNC Asset Management Group – first as Director of Portfolio Management, then as Senior Vice President and Market Director – leading the institutional investment team and serving as the senior investment professional for the Greater Washington region.
Mr. Walls received his Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from Howard University and his MBA in finance with a concentration in investment management from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
“Some of my fondest childhood memories were spent traveling with family to national parks such as Yosemite, Sequoia and Yellowstone. I am excited to join the NPT Board, working to preserve and protect these treasures, as well as creating the next generation of environmentalists,” said Mr. Walls.

Announcing the National Kids to Parks Day School Contest Winners

This year NPT launched the first National Kids to Parks Day School Contest. Schools who entered the contest submitted park trip proposals based on how they would use funding from NPT to create a meaningful park trip. Each proposal focused on three categories – healthy living, education and park stewardship. The winning schools will be taking their park trips on or around National Kids to Parks Day on May 19, 2012.

Overall, 32 schools from 15 different states were awarded park scholarships. More than 940 students from pre-K through 12th grade will benefit from these resources. The winning schools can be viewed by clicking here.
Congratulations to all!

Buddy Bison Students Celebrate Centennial Tree Planting Ceremony with the First Lady 


Two Buddy Bison students – Chellseas from KIPP DC: WILL Academy and Etni from Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School – joined students accompanying First Lady Michelle Obama during the Centennial Tree Planting Ceremony in Washington, DC. The ceremony honored the 100th anniversary of the planting of the first two of 3,000 cherry blossom trees given to the United States as a gift from the city of Tokyo, Japan. The First Lady was joined by other distinguished guests, including His Excellency Ichiro Fujisaki – Ambassador of Japan to the United States, Fujiko Hara – granddaughter of Tokyo’s former Mayor Ozaki, who gifted the original trees, and William H. Taft, IV – great-grandson of President Taft, who was in office when the trees were given to the United States. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was also in attendance and acknowledged the National Park Service's work to maintain the health of the cherry blossom trees throughout the years.
The First Lady stated that the trees “serve as a great symbol of the shared friendship between the United States and Japan and a symbol of our hope and aspirations." On the historic anniversary, she also spoke of our country's admiration for the beauty and resilience of the trees just as we admire the resilience of the Japanese people and their courage and grace as they rebuild their nation. (Group photo credit: Tami Heilemann)

White House Events Emphasize Progress in Conservation and Children's Health
Earlier in the month, President Obama and members of his Cabinet convened the White House Conference on Conservation. "The conference provided a wonderful opportunity to learn of the progress of the America’s Great Outdoors initiative and network with key partners and stakeholders that are impacting the youth education, park and wildlife preservation, outdoor recreation and economic aspects of this timely and critically important initiative,” said NPT Executive Director Grace Lee. You can watch some of President Obama's remarks from the conference by clicking here.
Also this month, the Let's Move! Champions of Change event was held at the White House. First Lady Michelle Obama addressed an audience that included nonprofit partners, local and national government officials, teachers, and school children – asking them to continue to share their stories and ideas that get young people to play and move. "We are making progress because of the good work you do," said the First Lady. The White House recognized 13 leaders who are living the goals of the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative as Champions of Change for their work to inspire and empower America’s youth to lead active, healthy lifestyles. "Each champion's story was unique with a common goal of engaging our youth with movement. A reoccurring theme discussed was the importance of tangible reminders for kids to live an active lifestyle and the need for students to be connected to each other across the country – something that we have had great success with through our Buddy Bison program," stated Grace Lee. The event can be viewed in its entirety by clicking here.

Richard Louv's "The Nature Principle"

On March 13th, members of National Park Trust’s staff were in attendance as Richard Louv spoke about his new book “The Nature Principle” and the importance of reconnecting our youth to the outdoors at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. Richard Louv is author of the best-selling “Last Child in the Woods” and co-founder of the Children & Nature Network. At the event Louv stated simply, "The more high tech our lives become, the more nature we need.”
The Children & Nature Network is NPT’s partner on its national grassroots movement National Kids to Parks Day. In addition, C&NN are the organizers of April’s Let’s G.O.! (Get Outside) Month – part of their ongoing efforts to reconnect our nation’s youth with the outdoors. To learn more about how you can participate, click here.

National Park Week is April 21-29 – the perfect way to participate in Let's G.O.! Month. During this week all 397 national parks across the country are offering free admission! 

The historic Bear Valley school house at Pinnacles National Monument.

2011 Annual Report

Our fiscal year 2011 annual report summarizes our milestone accomplishments last year.
Click here to download the PDF version and read about all of our recent achievements, including the launch of the first annual National Kids to Parks Day event, establishment of our inaugural leadership council and our new strategic goals established to benefit our park preservation and youth education programs.
If you would like more information about getting involved, please contact Shana Newman Fajardo at 301-279-7275 ext. 15 / or Adam Wieczorek at 301-279-7275 ext. 19 /
National Park Trust  /  401 E. Jefferson Street, Suite 102  /  Rockville, MD 20850  /  Email:  /