Junior Rangers – Connecting Kids with Nature
“Whenever I swear in a Jr. Ranger, I pause and wonder, ‘Was that a future Park Superintendent or a Senator?’ You just have no idea what impact it might have.”
– Mike Large, Interpretive Ranger Zion National Park
Whether it’s their first badge or their 100th, each time a new Jr. Ranger is “sworn-in”, the park service fulfills its mission of inspiring this and future generations.
Free to the public, each child age four and older, is afforded the privilege of becoming a Jr. Ranger. Every participant receives a fun and informative Jr. Ranger book with activity pages geared towards a younger audience. This helps children connect more deeply with the park, learning park rules, cleaning up trash, observing plants and wildlife, attending park programs, and finishing fun puzzles and drawings.
Once the book is complete, the deserving graduate visits a ranger to be sworn in and receive their official badge. Pipe Spring, Cedar Breaks, and Zion all offer long-standing Jr. Ranger programs, and even with COVID restrictions, rangers were able to make safe and distanced contacts providing hundreds with in-park programs alongside virtual lessons.
More than books and badges, the Jr. Ranger initiative also hosts a wide variety of field talks and programs engaging an estimated 40,000 park guests. At an average cost of just $1.35 for an activity book and badge, even a small gift connects the next explorer to a future filled with outdoor appreciation.