We are thrilled to announce Black Hills Parks and Forests Association was awarded a $1,500 grant from Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation to support the Junior Ranger Program at Scotts Bluff National Monument! This grant will help us continue to engage young visitors in learning about the rich history of the Oregon, California, and Mormon Pioneer Trails.

Logo of the Nebraska State Historical Foundation. Light brown pencil sketch of Chimney Rock, a tall thin natural stone spire on top of a rounded dirt mound.

NSHSF Statewide Grant program’s support of the Junior Ranger Program will help over 1,800 kids per year

The Junior Ranger Program: Inspiring the Next Generation

The Junior Ranger Program at Scotts Bluff National Monument is a cornerstone of our youth engagement efforts. Designed for children aged 5 and older, the program features a beautifully illustrated booklet filled with interactive activities that encourage “wonder and exploration” of the monument’s natural and historical resources.

Key features of the program include:

  • Engaging activities that connect children with the history of the westward trails
  • Exploration of the lives of pioneers and the indigenous peoples affected by westward expansion
  • Direct interaction with National Park Rangers, creating lasting connections with the Monument
  • A wooden badge awarded upon completion, which many families proudly collect and display from their travels

Since its redesign in 2021, the program has seen a remarkable 80% increase in participation, with over 1,800 young people completing it annually. Visitor feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with one family saying, “The junior ranger program was appropriate even for smaller children and our ranger spent time explaining the pioneer challenges and life.”

Impact of the NSHSF Grant — And YOUR Support!

The $1,500 grant from NSHSF provides crucial support for our Junior Ranger Program.  We are grateful for this significant contribution. The total cost of materials to renew the program comes to about $5,115.  To ensure we can fully fund this popular program, we appreciate our community of supporters bridging the gap.

Thin booklet with a cartoon covered wagon lies on a wooden desk. A label with the NSHSF logo is prominent in the lower left corner of the front page

The new NSHSF-supported Junior Ranger booklets will be in-stock at Scotts Bluff soon!

Here’s how the funding will be used:

  1. Reprint approximately 2,000 Junior Ranger Program booklets for the upcoming summer tourism season
  2. Produce wooden badges awarded to participants upon completion

The total cost of these materials is about $5,115. The NSHSF grant covers a substantial portion, and we’ll use funds from our dedicated members, donors, and park store customers to complete this year’s budget.

This collaborative funding approach highlights the vital role BHPFA supporters and customers play in maintaining and enhancing educational programs at our parks and forests. It shows off the power of community engagement in preserving our amazing Black Hills and Western Nebraska places!


Join us in Keeping Up the Momentum on the Trail

Your support is more crucial than ever in helping us reach our funding goals and continue offering the Junior Ranger Program free of charge. Here’s how you can contribute:

Every purchase, donation, and membership directly contributes to programs like this, ensuring they remain available for future generations of young explorers and history enthusiasts.

We extend our heartfelt thanks to the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation for their generous support. Together, we are making a difference in preserving our national heritage and inspiring the next generation of park stewards.