Parks make effort to draw younger audience

Posted: July 18, 2014

THE NATIONAL Parks Conservation Association wants kids to spend more time hiking on scenic trails and less time surfing the Web.

In an effort to get a younger generation into parks around the region, the organization yesterday named Doreen Taylor, a local country-music singer-songwriter, as an NPCA ambassador.

In April, Taylor debuted the song "Colors of the USA," written for the organization. Half of the proceeds from that single go to the NPCA.

"These [parks] are in our back yard, and we need to experience them, we need to feel them," Taylor said at the Independence National Historical Park announcement. "They may not be here forever."

Yesterday's effort, which brought out groups from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia and Camden County, comes as the national park system heads into its 2016 centennial.

Jeffrey Olson, spokesman for the National Park Service, said parks around the nation are looking to millennials to keep the turnstiles spinning, calling them a "prime audience." He said that although efforts made by park organizations to target this demographic have thus far been successful, it can still be a challenge.

The biggest one, Olson said, is engaging younger audiences among newer platforms like social media.

Park attendance has remained steady throughout the past few years, with about 280 million attendees nationally, Olson said.

"We need to inspire a new generation of people who are going to appreciate the parks, who are going to go out to visit the parks and are going to be strong advocates for the parks for the next 100 years," the NPCA's Matt Elliott said.

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