A “Living Emblem” for the NPS Centennial


How park lovers formed a giant arrowhead to celebrate NPS’ 100th

by Kyle Yarusso, SCA NPS Centennial Volunteer Ambassador

As  part of our celebration of the National Park Service (NPS), over 1000 people came together to create a giant version of the agency emblem, the Arrowhead, on the Washington Monument grounds. The event was symbolic in more ways than one. We each stood holding an umbrella of a certain color, standing side by side in our designated spots. After taking some time to get it just right, making slight adjustments here and there as we prepared for a photo to be taken from atop the Washington Monument, we succeeded in creating  a “living”  arrowhead, officially recognized as the largest ever by the Guinness Book of World Records!

Volunteers use colored umbrellas to form a giant National Park Service logo on the National Mall in celebration of the 2016 NPS Centennial.

This coming together of individuals to form a symbolic whole made an attractive metaphor for the organization we were celebrating: the National Park Service itself. NPS is a collection of individuals, each with a role to play—employee, intern, volunteer, partner, visitor…It is also a collection of over 400 different park sites, each with unique features, yet all working under the common mission laid out in the Organic Act signed into law on August 25th 1916: to “preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values…for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.”

Our national park sites are as diverse as the American people. They represent the ideas and ideals that we, as a people, believe in. Our national park sites and their preservation are truly something every American is a part of. To some the words “National Park Service” evoke natural wonders like waterfalls, old growth forests, and mountains. To others they mean the battlefields and historical buildings where the events portrayed in American history textbooks played out once upon a time. To others still they refer to the recreation areas that offer some of the best hunting, fishing, and family memory-creation opportunities in the world.

Volunteers use colored umbrellas to form a giant National Park Service logo on the National Mall in celebration of the 2016 NPS Centennial.

Each of America’s national parks is as unique as each individual American, but in the National Park Service and the places it preserves we can all find unity. To preserve and protect these special places for the next century, we must continue to come together—as visitors, volunteers, partners, interns, and employees—united as one.

A giant National Park Service emblem formed by volunteers holding colored umbrellas on the National Mall in Washington DC for the NPS Centennial.

kyle looking shady

As a SCA Centennial Volunteer Ambassador at President’s Park in Washington, DC, Kyle Yarusso recruits and engages volunteers to help make sure DC’s parks and their stories are preserved for the future generations. In this way he’s contributing to SCA and NPS’ joint effort to empower the next generation of conservation leaders to lead America’s parks through the next 100 years. Kyle says “Collaborating with communities, learning the history, sharing the stories, and enthusing my peers” are why he loves his work.