I’ll never forget the first big road trip I took with a friend in college. We went camping at the Grand Canyon, which was incredible. But the moment I’ll always remember is when we were driving home through the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel. As we drove out of the dark and into the bright sunshine of Zion National Park, we could see the whole canyon down below us and the cliffs towering above . . . it left me awestruck.
That was the moment I first fell in love with the parks. My love has grown over the years as I’ve witnessed the amazing natural beauty of even more national parks. Whenever I’m in a park, you can be sure my camera is at the ready. I love to capture not just the beautiful panoramas you’d see on a postcard in the visitor center, but the little details—the geology, the plants growing along the trail, and of course, the wildlife.
I also believe in the power of the parks to bring history alive. In 2011, I visited Fort Sumter in South Carolina during the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and realized just how much more I had to learn about that time in our nation’s history. For the next three years, I visited as many Civil War sites as I could. With the help of the national park rangers, I could picture the battles and almost imagine I was there.
I’ve enjoyed so many of our national parks during my lifetime. I am passionate about protecting the parks for future generations and would love to be remembered as someone who helped make that possible. That’s why I decided to include a gift to the National Park Foundation in my will.
After all, what’s greater than seeing the Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains, a giant redwood tree, or the Pacific coastline? I was able to see these places in all their glory because of those who came before me and protected them. That’s what a legacy is all about. It’s what you leave behind.