National Park Foundation Announces 2nd Annual @American_Latino Expedition to Connect Diverse Audiences to America's National Parks FOLLOW CONTEST AND ADVENTURES USING THE HASHTAG #ALEx14

WASHINGTON, June 24, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Park Foundation, the official charity of America's national parks, announced today that the call for applicants for the 2014 @American_Latino Expedition has opened. In its second year, this contest engages diverse audiences and inspires exploration and stewardship of America's national parks, all the while highlighting American Latino culture, history, and contributions across the National Park System. Individuals are invited to apply at www.alhf.org/alex through July 11, 2014, and can follow the hashtag #ALEx14 for updates.  The program is conducted through the National Park Foundation's American Latino Heritage Fund (ALHF).

Through a partnership with Aramark, the award winning food and hospitality partner for national and state parks and other leading leisure and cultural attractions across the country, leading outdoor gear and apparel retailer REI, and Columbia Sportswear, ALHF is issuing a national call for social media leaders to apply for the opportunity to participate in a national park adventure to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

"We're thrilled that our @American_Latino Expedition will once again give people the opportunity to experience our national parks, explore their connections to American Latino heritage and culture, and share their adventures along the way with their friends and family," said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation. "We are grateful for Aramark, REI, and Columbia Sportswear's continued support as we work together to inspire more people to visit, enjoy, and support their national parks."

The Expedition will focus on education, park stewardship, outdoor recreation, careers with the National Park Service, and more. Participants will meet directly with National Park Service staff. Expenses, including air travel, lodging, and most on-site tour and excursion fees will be covered by the National Park Foundation and Expedition partners. Expedition participants will also visit a local REI store to be outfitted for their trip.

"National parks preserve and convey exceptional stories about our nation's heritage, and each visitor brings their own distinct cultural background and family traditions whenever they experience these treasured areas," said David Vela, superintendent of Grand Teton National Park. "Through the 2014 @American_Latino Expedition and its social media bloggers, we are poised to inspire and educate Latino communities about the relevancy and value of national parks, and provide a journey to explore their heritage and contributions found within the National Park System." 

"As a company dedicated to enriching the national park experience, we're proud to partner with the National Park Foundation to find new and innovative ways to introduce and encourage people to visit and explore America's parks," said Bruce W. Fears, President of Aramark's Leisure division. "We're honored to once again support the @American_Latino Expedition and look forward to welcoming the winners to our property, Togwotee Mountain Lodge, during their adventure."

"REI is very proud to partner with the National Park Foundation for a second year with the @American_Latino Expedition team. Great gear and apparel from REI and Columbia will help guarantee a comfortable and memorable experience," said Myrian Solis Coronel, national partnership manager of multicultural marketing at REI. "We look forward to hearing their amazing adventure in the Grand Teton and hope their stories inspire others to have a lifelong appreciation of the national parks and great outdoors."

Established in 2011, the American Latino Heritage Fund of the National Park Foundation works to improve the representation of American Latino heritage in, visitors to, and the long-term stewardship of America's national parks. ALHF has provided significant support for the nominations of historic places including César E. Chávez National Monument in California and Casa Dra. Concha Meléndez Ramírez in Puerto Rico.

To learn more about the work of the American Latino Heritage Fund and how to support these important efforts, visit www.ALHF.org.  For more information on the National Park Foundation and how to support and protect America's national parks, please visit www.nationalparks.org.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION
The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America's national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service.  Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help PROTECT more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts, CONNECT all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history, and INSPIRE the next generation of park stewards. 

ABOUT ARAMARK
Aramark (NYSE: ARMK) is in the customer service business across food, facilities and uniforms, wherever people work, learn, recover and play. United by a passion to serve, our more than 270,000 employees deliver experiences that enrich and nourish the lives of millions of people in 22 countries around the world every day. Aramark is recognized among the Most Admired Companies by FORTUNE and the World's Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute.

ABOUT REI
REI is a $2 billion national multichannel retail co-op headquartered outside of Seattle. With more than five million active members, REI serves the needs of outdoor adventurers through innovative, quality products; inspiring classes and trips; and integrated customer service that allows shoppers to buy great gear and clothing in any way they want. REI has 135 stores in 33 states and REI.com and REI.com/outlet. Anyone may shop with REI, while members pay a one-time $20 fee to receive a share in the company's profits through an annual member refund based on patronage. Membership in the co-op also includes special promotions and discounts on REI Adventures trips and REI Outdoor School classes.

ABOUT GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK
Located in northwestern Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park preserves spectacular mountain scenery, extraordinary wildlife species and a remarkable assembly of cultural and historic resources. The rugged Teton Range—a central feature of the park— rises over 6,000 feet above the valley floor and includes the iconic 13,770-foot Grand Teton. The legendary Snake River and several glacial lakes add an aquatic dimension to the sage-covered valley of Jackson Hole. The park's world-renowned landscape attracts nearly four million visitors per year and offers an array of recreational activities for all ages and all abilities.

MEDIA CONTACT: Alanna Sobel
202-354-6486
asobel@nationalparks.org

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SOURCE National Park Foundation



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