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Becoming Junior Rangers at our National Parks

I love our National Parks! I’m very thankful for those who back in the latter half of the 1800s thought to preserve our beautiful landscape for future generations. I love that each park is unique. For instance, they all have their own special qualities that draw visitors far and wide. There are parks with majestic mountains, sweeping valleys, waterfalls, geysers, open fields, rivers, and lakes. Then there is the history of each park. Some parks have more historical significance in the role they played in history and the development of this country. While others show off the best that nature has to offer. And that’s just the parks. There are also historical sites, monuments, memorials, and landmarks too. I also love all the programs they offer like the Junior Rangers program.

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Junior Rangers

One of the ways I like to have the girls learn a little more about each park is for them to participate in the Junior Ranger badge program. Lucky for me it’s an easy sell. They love doing the activities as well as getting the badge at the end of it all. What I love is that they might actually learn something about the history of the park and the US. Therefore, if I homeschooled the girls this would be part of their history lessons.

Becoming Junior Rangers at Acadia
Junior Rangers at Acadia National Park

Check out the national parks website to see all they offer for kids. You can download the Junior Ranger booklets there as well, or pick them up at the park visitor center. Above all, it’s a great program for them to participate in. There are many programs offered by the park system that you and your family can participate in. Since each park has its own programs, there will be many for you to enjoy. Check them out for every park you go to.

Junior Ranger Angler badge

The park system also offers a Junior Ranger Angler badge. The park system is trying to inspire the next generation to get out in nature and fish responsibly. The booklet is a great way to introduce your child to fishing. In a fun and creative way, this badge teaches your child what he/she needs to know to have fun fishing. The badge teaches the different aspects of and ways to fish as well as how to fish safely. Your child will also learn how to protect aquatic habitats and the native fish that use those habitats.


Another really fun program the park system has is called Webranger. Web, hence this is an online program your child can participate in. Your child sets up an account through the national park system. They can start off by customizing their own ranger station. While playing games they earn points and learn about the parks in the United States. There are activities in nature, science, puzzles, parks, history, animals, and people. They can even print out a WebRanger ID badge. Ainsley has a particular interest in this webranger program. Particularly, I think it’s her love of animals. Who knows maybe one day she’ll be a Park Ranger.

Every Kid in a Park Program

The National Parks also have a great program offered to 4th-graders. It’s called “every kid in a park”. Your child must be in 4th-grade or the equivalent of 4th-grade for homeschooled kids, age 10 to participate. They can participate in a fun online activity to receive a voucher for a free 4th-grade annual pass. Your 4th-grader becomes an ambassador for the parks and can show you around. What 4th-grader wouldn’t like that? The program starts September 1st of their 4th-grade year and ends August 31st of the following year which gives them (and you) a full year to use their annual pass. **Be advised the activity online must be completed in one sitting and your child must be able to print out the voucher at the end of the activity. That printed voucher needs to be presented by your 4th-grader to the park staff to exchange for their annual pass.

Trolley ride at Lowell Mills national park
Lowell Mills National Historical Park

Lowell Mills National Historial Park

This picture from Lowell Mills National Historical Park was a fun day out for our family. Lowell is a town in northern Massachusetts that sits right on the Merrimack River. With the beginning of the Industrial Revolution many towns, like Lowell, used their rivers for power. Therefore, Lowell Mills became textile mills, making cloth to sell to a seamstress to make clothing.

There are many different buildings and parks in this national park. You will explore the buildings where the “mill girls” worked. They even run a few machines for you so you too can experience the incredible noise that the ‘mill girls’ experienced every day. It was extremely loud and I think it’s what the girls remember the most. I can’t imagine what it was like when all the machines were working. Those poor ‘mill girls’. I’d have had a headache every night. You will also ride the trolly through the town. For my kids, this was a fun bonus. The trolley took us to the boat which took us up and down the river and through the locks, another treat.

Liberty Bell Center

Another park the girls loved is the Liberty Bell Center. Seeing the Liberty Bell for the first time myself, I was taken aback by it. The history, the story, It’s just amazing. Did you know that the original name for the bell was The State House Bell? Also, we learned that the ‘crack’ you see on the bell is actual the repair of a hairline crack, amazing. If you look closely you can see drill bit marks (40 in total) used to open up the hairline crack to ‘repair’ the bell. Unfortunately, the repair didn’t work.

The Liberty Bell’s inscription reads ” Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof”

Junior Rangers at Liberty Hall
Liberty Bell with friends

Across the street from Liberty Bell Center is Independence Hall. The Birthplace of America. The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed in this building. The significance of these documents with their universal principles of freedom and democracy has deemed Independence Hall not only a National History Site but also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tour of Independence Hall was fun as well.

Ainsley becoming a Junior Ranger
Junior Ranger Ainsley

Liberty Island and Ellis Island

If you are in NYC try to visit Liberty Island and Ellis Island. Seeing the Statue of Liberty up close is spectacular. Since there is an auto-tour for you to listen to as you walk around the statue you will learn a lot. It does tell a nice story about the statue. Of course, to go into the Statue of Liberty reservations need to be made well in advance.

Ellis Island has a life of its own. Walking through the rooms the immigrants were led through gives you just a small understanding of what the crowds of immigrants experienced when arriving in America for the first time, most not speaking a word of English. There is also an auto-tour telling the story. Every moving indeed.

The girls working on their Junior Ranger badge
The girls outside the Statue of Liberty

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Acadia National Park

My kids have earned the Junior Ranger badge at Acadia National Park more than once now. We love Acadia so much that I’ve written an entire post about it, Majestic Acadia. As junior rangers, they will explore the park and see the diversity of this small park. The highest peak on the eastern seashore is Cadillac Mountain in Acadia. This year we hiked up Acadia Mountain as well as explored the tidal pools along the shore at Otter Point and Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. We also went to Sieur de Monts, where we explored the Wild Gardens of Acadia and they received their junior ranger badges.

becoming junior rangers at Acadia
Taking the oath to become Junior Rangers at Acadia

If you have a 4th-grader I hope you take advantage of the free annual pass for them and get out there and explore. Which park(s) do you live near? Which national park is your favorite?

This Post Has 45 Comments

  1. Pam

    I love this program – my kids love to complete things, so even as teens I think they would enjoy it.

    1. Leeanne

      Yes, Pam, I agree. My older daughter is super motivated with activities like this. She loves collecting all the badges which I think is great.

  2. Cindy

    This is a really fun program for kids.

  3. Taquia

    This looks like fun! My son would love the webranger program.

    1. Leeanne

      Taquia, the WebRanger would be a great tool to use right now with the schools closed. I find my younger daughter likes to go into the program and play around.

  4. Casandra

    The Junior Rangers are such a great program. My kids participated in the one at Haleakala National Park in Maui and they loved it!

    1. Leeanne

      That’s great Casandra. My kids have participated in the program is so many different parks and have learned so much I’m super impressed.

  5. Jordin

    I love this program! I have also seen the BarkRanger program for dogs. I am going to share the WebRanger program with my students.

    1. Leeanne

      That’s great Jordin, especially with everyone homeschooling right now, the WebRanger would be awesome.

  6. jen

    This is one of my absolute favorite things to do when we travel to parks! SO SO cool and it makes you see things you might have missed other wise. I LOVE this program!

    1. Leeanne

      I totally agree, Jen. I love it when the kids find new information out about the parks.

  7. kmf

    This is such a cool program!

  8. Stacey Billingsley

    What a great program! I wish we’d started sooner. You have some adorable junior rangers there. You also have some parks pictured I love to visit. Lowell Mills looks awesome!

    1. Leeanne

      Lowell Mills is super fun. The building they have set up with the old mills in them are amazing. They even turn the machines on for you to understand how loud the room was for the girls. Honestly, I don’t know that I couldn’t have worked there. I would have had a headache every night. My older daughter went with a school group there as well and they gave each class a different engineering challenge. It was really fun and great for the kids to work through. I really think it’s great how the national parks have special school programs as well.

  9. Cathy

    We love Junior Rangers and need to do more. Love these ideas!

    1. Leeanne

      Thanks, Cathy. We do them at every park. I love how diverse the parks all are.

  10. Missy

    I love our National Parks too. We have many more to visit. The Jr Ranger program is a great idea.

    1. Leeanne

      We have the Passport book and I want to be able to stamp every park. I’ve got a ways to go yet.

  11. Jennifer

    Good ideas for the kids to get involved.

  12. Hera

    So glad there are outdoor programs instead of just video games all day. If I had kids, I’d want them to be skilled outdoors & indoors.

    1. Leeanne

      Exactly, Hera. They need both skills in today’s world.

  13. Lisa Manderino

    I love the junior ranger program. My kids do it every time!

  14. Jordan

    This is such a cute idea! I wish my parents had known about this when I was a kid.

    1. Leeanne

      Me too. I can remember driving through the Blue Ridge Mountains and would have loved to learn more about them then.

  15. Melanie Kis

    WebRanger sounds amazing. I will check it out with my boys!

    1. Leeanne

      I know my daughter has enjoyed the WebRanger activities.

  16. Ola

    I think it’s great that they have these programs for children. It makes learning fun!

  17. Shirley

    My granddaughter would love this! I’m sending it to her parents for future reference.

    1. Leeanne

      I’m sure she will love it. The great thing about the program is that it can be adjusted for all ages.

  18. Sydney

    How fun! While camping at a Michigan State Park, a Junior Ranger came to our campsite and told us about the state park ranger program. Such a neat program for kids!

    1. Leeanne

      I love that. It is a nice way to get the kids involved. I also love when they have a telescope set up watching birds nests and other wildlife.

  19. Jill

    This is so cute! It’s great that they’re finding a way to educate the children about the beauty and history of our country. And Acadia is one of my favorites!

    1. Leeanne

      We love Acadia too. It is a great way to really get the kids involved in understanding each park.

  20. Trisha

    Our family absolutely loves the Ranger program! I think it is such an awesome way to get children involved in the preservation, and conservation, of our National Parks

    1. Leeanne

      I totally agree Trisha. We need them to carry on the work now and in the future.

  21. Taci- Life Beyond Zebra

    I have heard of this but never got to do it. What a fun way to learn and see a park!

    1. Leeanne

      It really is a great way to learn about each park. The kids get so much out of this program.

  22. Amanda

    We haven’t looked into the junior rangers at the National Parks. I will have to check into it for sure! The Every Kid in the Park is awesome. We went ahead and bought an annual National Park Pass. It was very useful.

    1. Leeanne

      Agreed. We have bought annual passes in the past. However, this year we are on my 4th grader’s pass – just hoping to use it again before her year is up.

  23. Holly

    Whenever we travel to the National Parks we have the grandkids do the Junior ranger programs. They love it!

    1. Leeanne

      The Junior Ranger program is so amazing.

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