Friday, February 01, 2013

Wide Open Spaces Beckon Junior Rangers

I don't recall Yogi Bear's nemesis, Ranger Smith, doing much singing.

Ranger Jeff Wolin is another story. On SONGS FOR JUNIOR RANGERS, Wolin wrote and/or musically arranged, performed, and coordinated the production of 19 original songs about a wide variety of national park themes, resources, and geographical locales, as interpretive learning tools to help diverse youth connect with the national parks.

Wolin accompanies himself on guitar and performed the songs across the country at a variety of Park Service and Department of the Interior special events. As the idea of producing a Junior Ranger music album began to take shape, he started collaborative partnerships between his Colorado park (Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument) and the Washington Office, the National Park Foundation, Eastern National Cooperating Association, and New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park.

Make no mistake about it – there's a wide variety of music on the disc (from surf guitar on "Beach Party on High Altitude" to rap on "Wapiti Hoppity"). However the agenda is education and bringing new, young, open minds (and bodies) into the wild blue yonder of our American national parks.

A whole cadre of artists, from Trout Fishing in America (aptly named and positioned on the CD) to Aaron Nigel Smith participated in the project. Their enthusiasm comes through clearly and (thankfully) not too earnestly. TFIA's song, "Thaddues Kosciuzcko Polka," celebrates the Polish-born patriot who helped win the American Revolution:

Now he and Thomas Jefferson share the same views...Thaddeus Kosciuszko
Were created equal a self evident truth...Thaddeus Kosciuszko
The Declaration of Independence spells it very clear
And it is said that when Thaddeus read it, he was brought it tears. 

There's almost too much to cover on the 20 tracks in the collection, which is billed as Volume 1 of who knows how many. Lyrics are included in a booklet with spectacular nature photogaphs, and you get a map copy of the Junior Ranger Game.

If you have a hankering for nature, or want to get your kids to appreciate the world around them (and not just the mall and skate park), here's a (forgive the pun) natural way to introduce the topic. SONGS FOR JUNIOR RANGERS won't give you poison ivy, won't attract mosquitoes, and just might teach your kids about the great outdoors.

SONGS FOR JUNIOR RANGERS is available through the eParks website, Amazon, and iTunes.

Here is a video for "Explore Learn and Protect" featuring Ranger Jeff:


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