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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
July 27, 2005
Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Junior Ranger Swearing in Ceremony
Minnesota Science Museum
St. Paul, Minnesota
3:03 P.M. CDT
MRS. BUSH: Thank you very much, Silver. Thank you very, very much. You did a great job. Thank you all. Thank you very much.
I'm very encouraged, and I know you are, to hear Silver talk about the great work she's been doing to help our environment and to help our National Parks thrive. Thank you very much, Silver, for that. (Applause.)
We're here today to call attention to America's national parks and to the way we can educate children through the Junior Rangers program. In just a few minutes, we'll swear in the newest group of Junior Rangers, and I'm so happy to be here for this occasion.
I want to thank Fran Maniella, the Director of the National Park Service. Thank you, Fran, very, very much, and Vin Cipolla, the President of the National Park Foundation, for joining us. And also Elly Sturgis, thank you, Elly, for your good work for the Mississippi River Fund, and Superintendent Joann Kyral, and Dr. Eric Jolly for hosting us here today at this magnificent museum. And then, of course, a special welcome to my friends Laurie Coleman and Debbie Kennedy. Thank you both for joining me here today. (Applause.)
And of course, I'm so happy to be traveling with my friend Regan. Regan and I grew up in Midland, Texas, together, and we have camped and hiked with a group of our friends that we grew up with in Midland for many, many summers in many national parks. This summer, we actually invited our daughters along. We had the first mother-daughter camping trip. We traveled on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, camped down there at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and then hiked out.! I will say the daughters beat us by about three hours at the hike out. (Laughter.) But we did make it. We were really proud about that.
But we've also spent other summers in Yosemite, in Yellowstone, in Glacier, in the many magnificent parks that America has to offer to all of its citizens.
But of course, national parks aren't just found in the wide open spaces. In fact, the President and I live in a national park. The White House is a national park, you might not have known it, and our gardens, the South Lawn and the north side of the White House are taken care of by national park rangers.
National parks are located in major cities throughout the United States, and each of them does a part about telling America's story. This national park, the one that we're on right now, honors the Mississippi River, which, of course, is a very, very important water resource and transportation corridor. But it's also a cultural and literature and historical monument in the United States, and to American history. And this park details t! he exploration of the river by Native Americans and Europeans, and then later, American explorers.
Earlier this year, Fran and I met, like Regan told you, at the Jefferson Memorial. That's where we swore in the first group of Junior Rangers since we've started this Junior Ranger campaign program. In Philadelphia, visitors can visit the Independence National Park to learn about the roots of our republic. In Atlanta, visitors can go to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site to learn about the life of one of America's heroes who struggled to achieve the promise of equal rights and liberty for all Americans.
The Junior Ranger program encourages children to visit national parks and explore what each one of them has to offer. Of course, it would be almost impossible to visit every single national park, but the one great thing about the Web Ranger program is that children can do that on their computers. And we know that with each park visited, especially if they can visit in person, young explorers discover the diverse geography, wildlife, and history of America.
Junior Rangers also learn about our responsibility to preserve our historic sites and to keep our natural sites in pristine condition so that all the people who come after us will get to visit those sites, just like we have.
Some of our Junior Rangers today, Simon Welch and Kayle Elonor Chosa -- Kayle is a member -- they're members of the Ojibwe tribe. And they've been invvolved in the Indigenous Garden Project, which teaches Indian youth how their ancestors grew crops, grew food and medicinal crops. And they're both here with us today. And I think if they stand -- I don't know if everybody can see them, but will Simon Welch and Kayle join us? (Applause.)
Keng Lee, who was born in Thailand, worked with other Junior Rangers to beautify the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary. Keng did research and helped prepare a presentation on the project. He and other students delivered this presentation to children in several elementary schools and to corporate leaders who are helping to restore the Sanctuary.
Keng says when he grows up, he wants to be a real park ranger. And that's actually one of the great goals about the Junior Ranger program, and that is to encourage Americans to choose the job of park ranger, to dedicate their lives to caring for our national parks. And this gives me a chance to thank our park rangers, all of the ones who are here today, for everything they do to help people enjoy our national parks, and everything they do to protect our national parks for generations to come. (Applause.)
But the best part of the Junior Ranger program is that whole families can explore national parks together. Introducing boys and girls to the magnificence of nature and to the stories of American history through our national parks should be an important part of every child's education.
Now, we're going to have the swearing in, and I want to say congratulations to the Junior Rangers who will take their pledge in just a few minutes. And I want to say thanks very much to the parents and the park rangers and the community leaders for introducing our national parks to a new generation of explorers.
END 3:10 P.M. CDT