The National Park Service is turning to reality television with hopes the programs can boost visitor diversity in the parks.
Recently such a show was filmed at Everglades National Park with a Hispanic family that, though lifelong residents of Miami, had never visited the park. The program, produced by Univision-23 and titled Aventura y Diversión En Los Everglades (Fun and Adventure in the Everglades), brought the Tolón family to the park for a weekend of camping.
Park officials say that while "the show presents the many adventures experienced by the family during their camping trip and the personal fears of alligators and wildlife they had to face, the show also focuses on educating viewers about the amazing resources that Everglades National Park preserves for the local community and America."
Along with showing how the family enjoys its weekend in the park, the show also profiles Everglades, noting that it is one of 393 units of the National Park System, contains the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States, is home to rare and endangered species, and has been designated a World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve, and Wetland of International Importance.
"We had a blast and you [park rangers] have both definitely left a lifelong mark in me in regards to wildlife awareness..... I have a new found respect for nature... Not that I hadn't before but it is different once you have an experience like ours. IT’S AMAZING!!!!!" said Helga M. Tolon.
During the 24-minute show the Tolón family members encounter alligators after dark, canoe through the park's waters, cycle on the trails, and enjoy many other activities while park rangers guide them through the experience. This sort of program is available to all families interested in living their own personal adventure in the Everglades, according to the park.
While park officials point out that the show was produced "with a clear focus on entertainment and education," they also note that "it is part of a national initiative to promote the national parks and motivate U.S. residents to visit and enjoy these national resources which as American citizens they own. Various shows, featuring parks such as Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and the Gates of the Arctic in Alaska, have aired in other markets, but this is the first to air in Spanish for the Hispanic community of south Florida."
"We are really excited about this opportunity to work with our partners on such a wonderful production that will reach new audiences for this wonderful American treasure," said Everglades Superintendent Dan Kimball.
Miami has a huge Spanish speaking population that is located between Everglades and Biscayne national parks. Yet many people are afraid or don't know how to visit the parks, according to a park release. Aventura y Diversión En Los Everglades is designed in part to show Hispanic-speaking park neighbors how close they are to an amazing place, and how they can explore it easily in a fun and entertaining way.
If you live in the greater Miami area, the show will air on Univision 23 this Saturday at 11 a.m.