Dear Mr. President,
It's hard for me to find the words to begin this note, because this is something I'm extremely passionate about, and I'm not asking you to understand why, but I am asking you to please listen.
Like everyone else in this great country, I have a dream; a goal which I have decided to dedicate my life to achieving. It may seem like a simple aspiration and possibly meaningless to you, but it's something I care about from the very bottom depths of my soul.
I want to work for the National Park Service.
My story is long, but here's the gist of it: in the summer of 2014, I discovered my sense of direction in life when I was lucky enough to visit Badlands, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks all during one road trip. I saw the earth's raw beauty and marveled at just how wonderfully diverse our planet can be. These places shook me to my core with just how incredible they are.
I knew from that moment on – from the second I climbed that first hill in the Badlands, gazed into that canyon in Yellowstone and humbly stood at the bottom of the Tetons – that I needed to do my part in protecting and preserving these special places that were set aside so long ago in the hopes that my generation, and all generations behind me, could grow to appreciate them in the ways that I had come to.
That was the summer that defined me as a person; when I decided I wanted to become a member of the Interior Department, and join the National Park Service in their mission to share, conserve and educate the world on why our parks are so important. Since that day, that passion and drive have never lessened, but only grown stronger.
I'm not the only one who believes in this cause.
There are millions upon millions of people, not just in the United States, but around the world who have come to discover and understand what the parks can offer us, why they are vital to protect, and know just how important the NPS is in doing those things and more.
From scenic views to endangered species, these public lands exist to guard our nation's identities. They define us historically, culturally and environmentally.
Not every park is a Yosemite or a Yellowstone, but all of them are equally important to keep our history alive.
These sites that the NPS oversees represent who we are.
These are the places that preserve the stories of hard fought battles during the Civil War. They showcase majestic mountains, roaring rivers, beautiful beaches, plentiful plains and much more. They give a glimpse into the lives of those in the past, and what life was like back in the old days. They are the resting place of fallen American heroes. They protect some of the last untouched wild landscapes left in the world. They give shelter to flora and fauna that don't exist anywhere else. They share the history of prominent figures and events that changed the course of history. They offer people the chance to connect to the natural world in ways they couldn't anywhere else.
They feel like home for some of us.
When I tell you that I can't imagine what I would be doing with my life had I not set foot in a national park, I mean it with every fiber of my being. I could never accurately find the words to describe just how much the parks have given me, and to countless others, even if I had the rest of eternity to do so. It's impossible to put into words; just know it's truly that important to some of us.
Thanks to the National Park Service and the work they do, I have found myself, what I love in life, and what I want to do with the time I'm given on this earth, just as many others before me have and as many others after me can as well.
I consider myself extremely fortunate to be able to volunteer some hours of my free time to the Park Service, because I love knowing that I'm doing my part to keep this agency and what it does alive in whatever ways that I can.
Now, it's your turn.
I'm not asking you to empathize with how much I love these places, as we live extremely different lives and have different morals and ideals. What I am asking you to do is picture this: having something you love so inexplicably much, and watching it slowly be taken away from you, whether it's from a lack of funding or a censorship-induced ban, or anything else. For one moment, imagine losing a part of yourself you couldn't ever imagine living without.
That's what it would feel like to me, and countless others, were this agency and its work ever to cease.
Maybe this letter does mean all that much to you, because maybe it's hard to understand how a national park could have changed and/or matter so much to anyone.
So for that, Mr. President, I implore you to take some time and visit a park. See the sites and hear the history. Immerse yourself in the nature around you, and honor the stories of the past. Open your heart and let it change you for the better, just as it did for me. Fall in love with our national parks and grow to realize why it truly is essential to keep them and this agency alive.
You have been given the power to help secure what has been rightfully called America's best idea, and I hope you realize the good you can do and use that power to its fullest extent.
You promised to be a president for all people. Please be a president for the parks and the National Park Service as well.
A Future National Park Service Ranger