Virginia's Shenandoah National Park is a 200,000-acre swath of land whose closest point from Washington, D.C is about 75 miles. The park is home to tens of thousands of animals, from insects and birds to deer and even bears. All of the lands are protected in this diverse ecosystem.
But with a growing number of visitors each year, it is important to protect the park from outside factors and maintain its beauty. That's where the Shenandoah National Park Trust comes in.
"The Shenandoah National Park Trust is an official partner of the National Park Service and the exclusive philanthropic partner of Shenandoah National Park," says Susan Sherman, president, The Shenandoah National Park Trust. "The Trust raises funds to support programs and initiatives that help ensure Shenandoah remains a crown jewel of the national park system for generations to come."
Founded in 2004, the Shenandoah National Park Trust helps maintain the park's beauty by raising money to fund programs that do just that. Those programs include educating young people in classrooms and while they're in the park, and things like trail maintenance and forest restoration.
With four staff members, a communications person, and interns, the Shenandoah National Park Trust is constantly working to keep the park looking as natural as possible. The condition of the park affects other parts of the region, such as the Chesapeake Bay.
"Shenandoah is Virginia's only National Park and the only National Park in the mid-Atlantic," Sherman said. "Shenandoah is a haven for biodiversity, harbors the headwaters of these major watersheds that flow to the Chesapeake Bay, is a keeper of American history, and offers premier recreation opportunities.
"Because federal funding has not kept pace with our national parks' needs, private philanthropy is critical to ensuring healthy and vibrant futures for these magnificent places."
The closest entrance to Shenandoah National Park, which is bisected by the Skyline Drive Scenic is about a half hour drive from Charlottesville. The park plays a vital role in the community, Sherman said.
"Charlottesville is an important gateway community and enjoys a high quality of life due in part to its proximity to Shenandoah," she said. "It is also a premier, local outdoor classroom. Millions of tourism dollars are infused into the local economy because of Shenandoah National Park."
The Shenandoah National Park Trust is headquartered in Charlottesville.