The call of Acadia National Park isn't just in its crashing waves or the silent watch of its ancient mountains; it's in the people who are the heartbeat of this wild, beautiful place. Take Ranger Kate, for instance, someone who's much more than a steward of the land. She's the kind of friend who turns a simple visit into a lifelong memory.
I remember the cold October day in 2020 when we met her and Ranger Lisa. We were there to capture episode #18 of our National Parks Expedition Challenge, but what we got was an unexpected adventure. We stood on a bridge that John D. Rockefeller engineered and soaked up everything Ranger Kate had to share about Acadia. That day, we didn't just learn about the park; we became part of its extended family.
Throughout the pandemic, when the world seemed to hold its breath, Ranger Kate kept the dialogue alive. We were swapping ideas, cooking up plans. When our original event at the National Mall fell through, she was the first to back our 'STEAM in the PARK' for the next summer. Thanks to her, 32 educators got to experience Schoodic Institute in a way they'll never forget.
Looking back over these three years, I see a tapestry of moments, all threaded with laughter, learning, and the kind of friendship that comes from shared passion. Ranger Kate has been with us every step of the way, from campfires to classrooms, bringing the magic of Acadia to over 100 educators fighting against issues like the invasive green crabs. Last summer, we had 21 educators and their families join us, and watching Ranger Kate with them was like watching the park itself open up and embrace each person.
Through our National Parks Expedition Challenge, we've connected over 30,000 students nationwide to Acadia National Park, encouraging them to engage with its wonders and to provide innovative ideas for the rangers.
Today's 'Crossing America' LiveStream, a collaboration with the National Park Foundation, saw over 1600 students marvel at the tide pools of Acadia, guided by Ranger Kate and her dedicated staff. Their awe was a reminder of the park's power to educate and fascinate.
You hear about the national parks often, but it's people like Ranger Kate who are the true story. It's for her and all the rangers out there that our national parks are more than just parcels of land; they're places where memories are made, where learning is alive, and where every visitor leaves with a piece of the park etched in their heart. Here's to the human touch in the vast wilderness. Here's to Ranger Kate!