As I sit in my warm dorm room and dread the idea of walking to class in ten-degree weather, I find myself thinking back to my warm summer road trips to national parks across America. Traveling is so important, and it teaches you more than you would think. Life skills are developed every minute of a vacation as you are in a new area far from home. Sitting in a classroom and reading about the Revolutionary War is one thing, but being able to see where history unfolded is completely different.

I've been to a lot of national parks, seen a lot of awesome sites, spent countless hours in the backseat of the family minivan and learned so much while doing so that I couldn't imagine life any other way. It is important to support national parks because learning by doing is much more beneficial than learning through videos or worksheets. You are not able to smell the pine trees of Yosemite National Park without going there, and you won't be able to feel the waters of the Great Lakes in a video. By touching, feeling, and encountering nature hands-on, you are able to expand your knowledge as you are exposed to new elements around you.

It is important to protect these great parks that allow us to encounter adventures that we would not have at home. If national parks aren't protected and visited, we risk losing pieces of nature that deserve to be explored.

Amanda Brennan

I am lucky to be able to say I have been to 29 states across America in the past 18 years, but my ultimate goal is to get to all 50. America has so much to offer and being able to experience it all coast-to-coast would be an experience like no other. Between the mountains, oceans, cityscapes, and rolling fields, there is always something new to explore. I am constantly researching my next dream vacation and planning new ways to see more new states on the same trip. I strive to travel far and wide across America so I can learn more outside of the great state of Illinois I call home. National parks bring in millions of visitors annually, and it's important that I am included in that number.

I guess you can say I was bitten by the travel bug at a young age, a bite that infected me and has impacted me ever since. By traveling, I have realized that learning is much more fun and meaningful when you are experiencing historical cities in real life, exploring nature on a hike, or simply road tripping through a new state. It is important to protect and support national parks every day because they are beneficial for all kids, families, and people of all ages.

Amanda Brennan