Junior Ranger Essay Contest Winner Highlights Grand Teton National Park

Jason R. Maki
Jr. Ranger Essay Contest Winner
July 10, 2009
With more than 400 compositions submitted for the 2009 National Park Foundation Junior Ranger Essay Contest, Jason Roy Maki, of Marysville, Washington, won second place for his piece highlighting the best of Grand Teton National Park. Maki and other contestants, submitted essays to answer the question: “Why are our national parks important to you and what is your best idea to protect our parks for the future?” This is the third year for the Foundation-sponsored contest, which is open to children aged 9 to 12. Vice Chair of the National Park Foundation Vin Cipolla explains the importance of the writing competition, stating: “This essay contest is about giving [the children] a microphone to tell their stories, and also empowering them to become stewards by giving them a chance to direct grants to the parks of their choice.”

As part of his second place prize, Maki won a $500 Visa gift card, an America The Beautiful pass, and an opportunity to direct a $2,000 contribution to the park of his choice. Maki chose Grand Teton as the recipient of his contribution, and his choice seems appropriate given the vivid descriptions he uses in his winning essay. Maki states simply, “I love Grand Teton National Park the best,” and who could doubt him when he describes some of his favorite moments: “I’ve seen an eagle and an osprey fighting over a fish…I’ve even seen a rare black wolf running across a snow field… [and] I’ve watched a huge bison lit up against the night sky when lightning struck the mountains.” Maki appreciates the importance of all national parks, and explains that a “national park is like a special cabinet that contains memories that are filled with truly special natural treasures.” Maki comments that “We the people own the national parks,” and he urges us all not to litter, feed animals, or leave campfires carelessly. In addition, Maki offers several suggestions for increasing awareness for our national parks. First, Maki recommends a national contest for kids in school to brainstorm ideas about protecting and preserving national parks. Second, Maki proposes a reading program where school-age children can learn about national parks and eventually visit them one day.

“Jason’s enthusiasm about our park and his stewardship potential are truly inspiring,” Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott said. “The Junior Ranger Essay Contest highlights the kind of future leaders we need to endorse and advocate for our national park system. Jason was generous in his decision to gift Grand Teton National Park with a monetary contribution, and it will be put to use furthering the kind of awareness that Jason so eloquently promotes in his essay.”

All winning essays will be featured in the 2009 Junior Ranger Gazette, published by sponsor Unilever. They are also posted on the National Park Foundation’s Web site www.nationalparks.org/essaycontest.