Nat Geo Gives Us 20 National Park Leaders Under the Age of 30

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As most everyone knows by now, last week the National Park Service celebrated its 100th anniversary. In the days since then, we’ve seen a lot of celebrations across the country, with thousands of people saluting the government agency tasked with protecting the parks while at the same time making them accessible to the public.

The celebration will continue throughout the rest of the year, but it is also a time to begin looking forward to the next century. There is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that the national parks will be around for future generations to enjoy as well. To that end, National Geographic has selected 20 scientists, filmmakers, activists, and educators who have dedicated their lives to protecting the parks, both in the U.S. and abroad. Oh yeah, and each of these men and women happen to be under the age of 30 as well.

Amongst those making the list are Ben Masters, a filmmaker and horseman who is working to protect wild mustangs. He’s joined by Cassi Knight, an NPS scientist who is searching for dinosaur remains in Denali National Park, and Elizabeth and Cole Donelson who spent the past 12 months visiting all 59 U.S. national parks. Others include Jen Guyton, a scientists helping to protect animals from poachers in Mozambique, and cartographers Ross Donahue and Marty Schnure, who are mapping remote areas of Patagonia.

As you can see, this is a diverse and interesting group of individuals, each of which is playing a vital role to help promote national parks both at home in the U.S. and in other countries around the world. The concept of creating public lands that are set aside for future generations to enjoy too has been called “America’s Best Idea,” and these young men and women are helping to spread that idea further. Hopefully in another hundred years we’ll be continuing to celebrate the National Park Service, and the effort that these individuals have made along the way.