Historic site's Junior Ranger Day April 26

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A full day's worth of activities await children and adults alike during the National Park Service's upcoming Junior Ranger Day at the Fort Scott National Historic Site.

The event, now in its second year, will be celebrated at numerous National Park Service-operated areas throughout the United States, including FSNHS, on April 26. FSNHS staff invite visitors to explore the site and complete various activities outlined in the park's free Junior Ranger booklet, after which they will be bestowed the rank of junior ranger and receive a certificate and badge. The theme for this year's event is "Explore, Learn, Protect: Be a Junior Ranger."

NPS Ranger Kelley Collins said she and other fort staff are hoping to see a better turnout and more participation from visitors at this year's event.

"We had a modest turnout last year," Collins said. "Of course, the weather has a big play in it. We're definitely anticipating an increase."

The goal of the site's Junior Ranger program is to teach children about Fort Scott's significant role in U.S. history, and to encourage them to be future stewards of America by sharing NPS values of preservation and protection of the nation's natural and cultural resources. To achieve these goals, fort staff invite children and families to attend activities from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 26, at the site.

Activities include a behind-the-scenes tour of the site; a prairie cleanup; a discussion of the importance of the prairie, and an official ceremony to swear in participants as junior rangers. In a program titled "What's Eating the Site," scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. that Saturday, children will be able to get an up-close look at bugs that harm museum collections, and learn how to control them through a system called Integrated Pest Management, a FSNHS statement said.

One of the day's highlights will be a program, specifically designed for young people, that details the history of the U.S. flag, which will include a discussion on the Pledge of Allegiance; instructions on flag etiquette; and an outdoor flag ceremony. The program will satisfy flag-related requirements for several Boy Scouts of America merit awards, including the Wolf Badge, the Bear Badge, the Webelos Badge, the United We Stand badge and the Wave the Flag badge; as well as the NPS Junior Ranger Program.

There will only be enough space allotted for 30 participants during the outdoor flag ceremony, so those people who are interested in participating should call the fort at (620) 223-0310 to reserve a spot.

Throughout the day, participants can work on a scavenger hunt and the park's Junior Ranger booklet, which is also available throughout the year. All participants will receive a Junior Ranger badge and other memorabilia. All children must be accompanied by an adult, Collins said.

"We're asking that parents participate and accompany their kids," she said.

FSNHS staff, along with past graduates of the fort's Trailblazer program, will be dressed in period costume and stationed at different locations the day of the event to help present all of the various programs. The Trailblazer program is a week-long summer program for youth that teaches them about the National Park Service's mission, which is to preserve and protect national parks and historic sites worldwide, Collins said.

"Their presentation is very popular," she said. "It's a well-received program. There are about 15 kids who participate right now."

The FSNHS, administered by the NPS, commemorates Fort Scott's role in the opening of the West, Bleeding Kansas and the Civil War. The site is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. There is an entrance fee of $3 for people 16 years of age and older. Children who are 15 years of age and younger are admitted free of charge. For more information, call the fort or visit the park's Web site, www.nps.gov/fosc.