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2023 Essay Contest - 6th grade winning essay (tie)

Updated: Feb 2, 2023

The Mather Homestead Essay Contest: Why are the National Parks important for kids?

Submission by: Juliet Chattaway, 6th grade, New Canaan Country School

The first time I visited a National Park, I remember being awed by water suddenly shooting up into the air from a geyser, a glistening lake that was so still and perfect it seemed unreal, and the enormous mountains that towered over us all. My family fished on the Snake River, swam in translucent lakes, hiked through thick forests with plants and flowers squeezed into every nook and around every corner, and took many, many pictures. My experiences taught me that the National Parks are important for kids because they are special places full of natural wonders where kids can do something fun outdoors with their family, they are a non-hectic and inexpensive travel destination accessible to all, and they help kids learn about nature and inspire them to protect the environment. The National Parks are very important for kids, and the United States would be very different without them.

The first reason why National Parks are important for kids is that they are full of natural wonders, such as waterfalls, geysers, lakes, streams, canyons, glaciers and mountains. Kids can experience different landscapes, animals, and plants that they probably do not get to see in their daily lives, and participate in outdoor activities like canoeing, hiking and camping. Kids of all ages and abilities can find something fun to do outside with their families.

Also, the National Parks provide destinations for families to travel to in the United States, other than amusement parks, cities, ski resorts and beaches. A visit to a National Park is a much more affordable vacation compared to many other American vacation destinations. Also, activities such as hiking, bird-watching, camping, fishing and looking at the sights in a National Park are not as hectic and overstimulating as shopping and walking around a big city or standing in line and fighting the crowds at an amusement park.

Lastly, the existence of National Parks shows kids that adults are committed to protecting the environment. Kids always hear adults saying that we need to protect the environment, but it is difficult to see concrete ways in which adults are actually conserving and caring for the environment. By preserving large areas of nature and not overdeveloping them with houses or buildings, kids can see that adults care about the environment. When kids visit a National Park, they can see how beautiful the world is without buildings and man-made structures, which can inspire kids to protect the environment and conserve land, too.

For these reasons and more, the National Parks are really important for kids. I will never forget the time my family and I were fishing on the Snake River, talking and laughing, and a courageous bald eagle started swooping down, trying to take the mountain whitefish that I was reeling in. It was a picture-perfect American moment. All kids should get to experience the National Parks with their families, and we are so lucky to have these beautiful preserved natural areas in the United States.

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