Shenandoah National Park To Host Junior Ranger Day

Posted: April 10, 2014

Daily News-Record

Shenandoah National Park will host Junior Ranger Day, part of a nationwide effort to connect kids with nature, at 9:30 a.m. April 19. (Courtesy Photo)

Technology can be fun, but sometimes the lure of television, computers and social media make it so that children don’t want to leave the house.

“With technology being what it is, it’s sometimes difficult to engage kids with nature and the outdoors,” explained Claire Comer, a spokesperson for Shenandoah National Park.

On April 19, SNP will take part in National Junior Ranger Day, a nationwide effort to encourage children to connect with nature.

“The whole idea is for kids to have a positive experience in the national park and to maybe understand about what [park rangers] do and why we do it,” said Mara Meisel, the park ranger in charge of organizing the event.

From 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., touch tables, uniform try-on stations and indoor scavenger hunts will be offered at both the Dickey Ridge and Byrd Visitor Centers.

 The touch tables will contain items from the park, such as skulls, fur pelts and the imprint of a bear’s paw, that children are encouraged to feel and explore, while the scavenger hunt will feature questions based on the park’s exhibits. While Comer says both are popular, she remembers the uniform try-on stations drawing the largest crowds.

“[Children] seem to really, really love dressing up in the ranger uniforms,” she recalled.

For children hoping for an up-close encounter with wildlife, “Owl Be Seeing You” will take place from 1-1:30 p.m. at the Byrd Visitor center. According to Comer, the presentation teaches children about the important role owls play in the ecosystem — and includes a feathery guest.

“There will be a live screech owl there that the kids can meet,” she said.

Additionally, at various times throughout the day, law enforcement rangers and firefighters will explain how they guard the park’s resources.

“Our firefighters will be there with the fire truck talking about how they protect the park,” Comer remarked. “They show the kids the fire trucks, they talk about firefighting and they let them hold the fire hose.”

While Comer said one of the goals of National Junior Ranger Day is “absolutely” to encourage children to consider a career as a park ranger, she says it’s also simply an enjoyable day.

“It’s a pretty popular event, it’s a fun event, [and] we love having the kids in the park.”

Meisel adds that you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy the festivities.

“Families get a kick out of doing [the activities] with the kids”

There is no charge to attend, and registration is not required.

For more information and a complete schedule, visit

Contact Katie King at 574-6271 or

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