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Sometimes you hear a presentation from someone who just “gets it.” In this case it was National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis who gave the keynote speech at OWAA’s annual conference held this year in June in Knoxville, Tennessee.
What was so special about Jarvis’ speech was how he linked our public lands to American values. Jarvis quoted Ken Burns; “the National Parks are a Declaration of Independence applied to the land.”
“We save what we value. If you think about what you retain in your own personal lives; those things that are important to you. Well, as a nation we have set aside 407 places that really represent our national character and define the American experience,” said Jarvis.
Here are some of the values and places Jarvis mentioned in what he referred to as his “Field Guide to American Values:”
Freedom: Places like Independence Hall and Manassas Battlefield.
Equality: Places like the Selma to Montgomery Historic Trail and Women’s Rights Historical Park in Seneca, New York.
Democracy: Places like Federal Hall National Memorial and the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
Fun: Places like the Grand Canyon and Denali National Park. Courage: Places like Flight 93 National Memorial and military cemeteries, like Antietam.
Honesty: Places like Manzanar and Mesa Verde.
Leadership: Places like Mount Rushmore and the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial.
Conservation: Places like Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park and Yellowstone National Park.
“America’s 407 National Parks are a collective expression of who we are as a people,” Jarvis said. “They are a mosaic of the things that we value most about ourselves. While they define the values they also unite us as a nation.”
OWAA members serve as the voice of the outdoors. Every word we write or speak and every image we capture helps others see and hear what we value most. You can see all of Jarvis’ keynote address at https://owaa.org/blog/2015/08/a-field-guide-to-american-values/. ♦
— OWAA Executive Director Tom Sadler, firstname.lastname@example.org