Deputizing the Future
The program name is labeled “junior,” but in reality, it’s all-inclusive. Visitors of all ages can participate. In fact, to date, the oldest Junior Ranger was sworn in at 103 years old. The National Park Service‘s Junior Ranger program inspires excitement in visitors of any age.
The Junior Ranger program engages visitors through activities such as scavenger hunts, puzzles, and critical-thinking activities that focus on conservation, preservation, and stewardship as well as ranger-led demonstrations and presentations. Geared toward children, a booklet of wide-ranging park activities helps gear prospective junior rangers to learn about the park’s natural resources. The booklet offers Junior Rangers more than a walk or ride through spectacular scenery. The activities make the park a more rewarding experience for youth.
To be sworn in as a Junior Ranger and receive their Junior Ranger badge, visitors must complete the completed activity booklet and return it to a ranger at the Visitor Center or park museum. The tasks are varied and fun, from identifying a variety of animal tracks, including a coyote, deer, and lizard, to learning about the symbiotic relationship between the park’s many organisms. They play games like “I Spy” in which they must find and identify park landmarks like animal sculptures at the visitor center, the large tree in front of Zion Lodge, and the park’s first museum site in the Grotto area.
Completing the activities and earning a Junior Ranger badge connects visitors to the park, inspires future stewardship, and provides a source of reflection and reminiscence as visitors return home.
Last year, Zion inspired thousands of new Junior Rangers, distributing more than 40,000 Junior Ranger booklets and badges. Each booklet costs 60 cents to produce and each badge costs 85 cents, meaning for $1.45, even your small donations can equip the next junior ranger with an engaging experience and a memento to remember for a lifetime.