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Work with National Parks

Work with National Parks

Since entering into a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service (NPS) in 1970, the NCTA has offered a wide range of programmatic assistance to over 50 NPS-administered sites in 36 states and U.S. territories. Our work has included planning new parks, conducting ethnographic studies, organizing crafts and museum exhibits, developing traditional music presentations, training park personnel in cultural presentation techniques, and assisting local non-profit groups with organizing cultural events in national parks. Below is a list of NPS sites with which the NCTA is currently collaborating, and a brief description of this work. Be sure to visit our YouTube channel for a playlist featuring the NCTA’s recent NPS projects.

National Park Service sites with which the NCTA currently partners:

Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469-mile stretch of road winding through the culturally rich Appalachian Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina. It is home to the $14-million Blue Ridge Music Center (BRMC), a site dedicated to preserving and celebrating the region’s traditional music and musicians.The BRMC houses the Roots of American Music interactive museum, which traces the origins of Appalachian music and illuminates its seminal role in shaping American popular music.

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is located just outside of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and is home to one of the world’s richest and most diverse fossil deposits. With fossils ranging from massive petrified Sequoia trees to tiny fossils of insects and plants, the Monument provides opportunities to explore paleontology and life 34 million years ago. The NCTA partners with Florissant Fossil Beds on interpretive programs that combine cultural expression and geological exploration.

Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission/National Heritage Area is home to one of the country’s most distinctive and threatened cultures. The Gullah Geechee people of the Low Country and Sea Islands of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina are direct descendants of Africans who were brought to the United States and enslaved for generations, and whose relative isolation resulted in strong West African cultural retentions. The NCTA’s work with the Commission includes initiatives to identify, catalogue, digitize, and copy Gullah Geechee cultural materials, and expand access to their use by the Gullah Geechee community.

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park is a relatively new NPS site located in Maryland that is named for and preserves the landscapes that Harriet Tubman, the Underground Railroad’s best-known conductor, used to carry enslaved people to freedom. With nearby Salisbury, Maryland, hosting the National Folk Festival since 2018, the NCTA has assisted the Park with community outreach through intimate, free, outdoor concerts at the Park’s Visitors Center as well as interactive, educational demonstrations in the National Folk Festival’s Family Area, furthering themes related to the Underground Railroad, Tubman’s life, and the journey to freedom. 

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve comprises six wide-ranging sites educating visitors on south Louisiana’s diverse cultural and ecological landscapes. The NCTA and Jean Lafitte NHP first worked together in 1980, when the NCTA began supporting interpretive programs at the Park highlighting the region’s Cajun, Isleño, African American, and Native American traditions.

New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, closely aligned with Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, aims “to serve the nation as a global leader in the promulgation of New Orleans jazz by enhancing and instilling a public appreciation and understanding of the origins, early history, development and progression of this uniquely American music art form.” Located in the French Quarter of New Orleans, the Park provides many visitors an introduction to the city’s jazz tradition. 

Lowell National Historical Park, among the NCTA’s oldest Park partners, is an urban park in Lowell, Massachusetts, that interprets the American Industrial Revolution and the immigrant communities that fueled it. The NCTA has worked with the Park since Lowell first hosted the National Folk Festival in 1987. It has supported its successor event, the Lowell Folk Festival—among New England’s most important cultural events—since 1990.

Richmond National Battlefield Park encompasses Civil War battlefield sites and visitor centers in Richmond, Virginia, and surrounding counties. Partnering since 2005 with the Park, the City of Richmond, Venture Richmond, the Virginia Folklife Program at Virginia Humanities, and the Children’s Museum, among other entities, the NCTA co-produces the Richmond Folk Festival, considered the “jewel in the crown” of the city’s cultural calendar. 

San Juan National Historic Site on the island of Puerto Rico features Spanish colonial structures including Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Castillo San Cristóbal, the San Juan Gate, and Fort San Juan de la Cruz. Its mission is to preserve natural and cultural treasures of Puerto Rico for the enjoyment of this and future generations. The NCTA began assisting the Park with interpretive cultural programming in 2019. 

Recent highlights from NCTA’s work with the National Park Service:

  • The NCTA supported and provided consulting services for the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Blue Ridge Music Center’s 2019 concert season, which presented over 200 music programs featuring artists of regional and national significance. The NCTA also joined the BRMC in celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Roots of Music, the Center’s permanent, interactive exhibit, which the NCTA helped establish in 2009.
  • In the summer of 2019, the NCTA worked with Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument on the Hip Hop Boot Camp program, offering at-risk, city-dwelling students both a mind-expanding, paleontological, geological, and archeological experience, as well as a creative engagement with hip hop arts. Together, NPS and NCTA identified and invited two high-school-aged hip hop artists—Joey Lovett, aka Cangaroo, from West Oakland, and Nehemiah Vaughn, aka Nuisance, from Oakland—to spend two days exploring the site and to create songs about their experiences. Listen to the two songs they composed and recorded.
  • The NCTA has continued to work with Maryland’s Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park on Park programming highlighting the site’s historical significance and Harriet Tubman’s heroic life and legacy. In 2020, with support from the Park, the NCTA presented an online performance by Phil Wiggins, a celebrated Piedmont blues artist and harmonica player out of Takoma Park, Maryland, for the National Folk Festival 2020 Virtual Celebration.
  • In 2020, the NCTA collaborated with Richmond National Battlefield Park, Venture Richmond, and other festival partners to develop the 2020 Richmond Folk Festival’s Virtual Celebration, a response to the global pandemic. The Park contributed a fun, educational video presentation on preparing a wartime food staple known as hard tack for the virtual event.

Complete list of National Park Service sites with which the NCTA has worked:

Alaska Area National Monuments (Alaska)
Arches National Park (Moab, Utah)
Blue Ridge Parkway (North Carolina, Virginia)
Buffalo River National Park (Harrison, Arkansas)
Cane River Creole National Historical Park (Natchitoches, Louisiana)
Canyonlands National Park (Moab, Utah)
Cape Cod National Seashore (Wellfleet, Massachusetts)
Catoctin Mountain National Park (Thurmont, Maryland)
Chamizal National Memorial (El Paso, Texas)
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (Sandy Springs, Georgia)
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park (District of Columbia, Maryland, West Virginia)
Coronado National Memorial (Hereford, Arizona)
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park (Middlesboro, Kentucky)
Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area (Brecksville, Ohio)
Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park (Dayton, Ohio)
Ebey’s Landing National Historical Preserve (Coupeville, Washington)
Everglades National Park (Homestead, Florida)
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument (Florissant, Colorado)
Fort Stanwix National Monument (Rome, New York)
Gateway Arch National Park (St. Louis, Missouri)
Gateway National Recreation Area (New Jersey, New York)
Glen Echo Park (Glen Echo, Maryland)
Golden Gate National Recreation Area (Mill Valley, California)
Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site (Deer Lodge, Montana)
Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Gatlinburg, Tennessee)
Guilford Courthouse National Military Park (Greensboro, North Carolina)
Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor (South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida)
Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park (Church Creek, Maryland)
Hot Springs National Park (Hot Springs, Arkansas)
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (Chesterton, Indiana)
Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve (Louisiana)
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (St. Louis, Missouri)
Johnstown Flood Historic Site (Johnstown, Pennsylvania)
Kalola-Honokōhau National Historical Park (Kailua-Kona, Hawaii)
Lincoln Memorial (Washington, District of Columbia)
Lowell National Historical Park (Lowell, Massachusetts)
Mammoth Cave National Park (Mammoth Cave, Kentucky)
Mound City Group National Park (Chillicothe, Ohio)
National Mall (Washington, District of Columbia)
New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park (New Bedford, Massachusetts)
New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve (New Lisbon, New Jersey)
New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Nez Perce National Historical Park (Joseph, Oregon)
Nicodemus National Historic Site (Bogue, Kansas)
Ocmulgee Mounds National Monument (Macon, Georgia)
Pecos National Monument (Pecos, New Mexico)
Richmond National Battlefield Park (Richmond, Virginia)
Rock Creek Park (Washington, District of Columbia)
San Juan Island National Historical Park (Washington)
San Juan National Historic Site (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (Calabasas, California)
Statue of Liberty National Monument (New York, New York)
White House (Washington, District of Columbia)
Tumacácori National Monument (Tumacácori, Arizona)
Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site (Tuskegee, Alabama)
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts (Vienna, Virginia)
Yosemite National Park (California)
Zion National Park (Springdale, Utah)

If you wish to learn more about how to involve a National Park unit in the work of NCTA, please contact parks@ncta-usa.org.