“We’re here to honor this beautiful land and the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, and to find out about the Earth that we need to protect together,” National Geographic President and CEO Gary E. Knell said at the opening of the 2016 National Parks BioBlitz today.
Knell was speaking at an event on the National Mall, in Washington, D.C., within view of the Washington Monument and across the way from the White House. The Mall and its memorials and the President’s Park around the Presidential mansion are both national parks. (Yes, the President and First Family work and live in a National Park!)
The historic BioBlitz is the 10th in the annual series of BioBlitzes hosted by National Geographic and the National Park Service in the run-up to this year’s centennial. Knell reminded the audience that the Society played a role in the founding of the Park Service in 1916 by helping draft the legislation to set up the federal agency and lobbying Congress to have the service established.
“National Geographic and the National Park Service have worked together for 100 years,” Knell said. “National Geographic is 128 years young, and we have scientists, photographers, explorers, teachers, reporters, and geographers who come together on our campus just a few blocks form here and try to tell stories about the world, what it was, what it is, and what it will probably be.”
Addressing the audience that included many grade school students, Knell said: “We hope that each of you can be an NG Kid, and that all of you grownups are NG Kids, because we know that the world is in a critical place now. It always has been, but now it is more than ever.’
Classroom of the World
“To have you guys out here, in the classroom of the world, is really what National Geographic tries to do every day,” Knell said. “So stay curious, you never know what you will find — that’s our motto at National Geographic. We want to have generation after generation of curious kids, who become curious adults — as we like to say, from cradle to cane.
“So we are dedicating ourselves to the future of BioBlitz, and to the future of science and exploration and storytelling to change the world — and we hope that you all join us in the road ahead.”
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell welcomed observers from countries planning to organize their own BioBlitzes: Canada, Montenegro, Slovenia, Italy, and South Korea. “Animals like to cross borders,” Jewell noted, “so we need to work together to understand who those animals are.”
Jewell also reminded the audience of the words of the conservationist John Muir: Whenever we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.
Bob Vogel, the Regional Director of the National Park Service’s National Capital Region, said: “In celebration of the National Park Service’s centennial, we are about to embark on a weekend of adventure and discovery, the 2016 National Parks BioBlitz, a quest to discover and document as many species as possible.
“This is the 10th annual BioBlitz in collaboration with our very important partner, the National Geographic Society. And after taking BioBlitz to national parks across the country, we have come home to celebrate. And this year is the biggest ever. Instead of focusing on just one national park, there are 120 national parks across the country, including 13 right here in the greater D.C. area that are BioBlitzing.”
National parks and participating partners are sharing their BioBlitz activities via social media, using the hashtags #BioBlitz2016 and #FindYourPark. More information about the national parks BioBlitz and an interactive map to find a BioBlitz near you are available at natgeo.org/bioblitz and on the National Park Service website.
David Braun is director of outreach with the digital and social media team illuminating the National Geographic Society’s explorer, science, and education programs.
He edits National Geographic Voices, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society’s mission and major initiatives. Contributors include grantees and Society partners, as well as universities, foundations, interest groups, and individuals dedicated to a sustainable world. More than 50,000 readers have participated in 10,000 conversations.
Braun also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship.