Natural Champions for Parks
Like many NPCA supporters, Vicki Lange will never forget that very first trip when she fell in love with one of the National Parks. She and her husband, John, were just married and drove all night to get to Big Bend National Park in southern Texas. They hiked, they camped, and Vicki says that she can still picture the spectacular views.
She recalls, “I remember sitting there with my feet over the rim. It was like a spiritual experience—the panorama of the Chisos Mountains, the desert stretching out into Mexico, and the Rio Grande snaking along more than 5,400 feet below.”
Vicki’s passion for the outdoors was awakened on that trip and still burns strong today. She has visited 12 parks in many corners of the country—from Carlsbad Caverns, to Yellowstone, to Fort Davis and beyond. She and her husband have also passed their love of nature to their three sons, who each celebrated their 16th birthday with a trip to a National Park of their choice.
But it was not until Tom Kiernan spoke to her garden club in 2007 that Vicki connected her love of the parks to NPCA’s mission. In Vicki’s words, “It was very eye opening to realize that, because the National Park Service is a federal agency, it has a very limited ability to argue for itself. The parks really need an advocate and that’s why I got involved with NPCA.”
Vicki has quickly become a champion—spreading the word in Houston about our work, encouraging existing NPCA members to get more involved, and recruiting new supporters to our cause.
She is also helping mobilize her community to aid the parks in very hands-on ways. Her garden club, along with several others in the Houston area, worked with NPCA to organize a tree planting in Big Thicket National Preserve last year. Big Thicket is still recovering from Hurricane Rita, which downed acres of trees. But Vicki’s group and others planted more than 3,000 new trees in a single outing and plans are now underway to do so again next year.
Vicki says she would like to pass on to the next generation a sense that we have a responsibility to care for our environment and leave everyplace we go better than we found it. She says, “Our country is in a terrible financial bind, and I would hate to see our parks suffer. NPCA helps educate the public about how much the parks matter and how much danger they’re in. That’s something all of us should support.”