In a soul-searching, head-scratching journey of its own, the National Parks Service, the agency that manages some of the most awe-inspiring public places, is scrambling to rethink and redefine itself to the growing number of Americans who do not use the parks in the way that previous — mostly white — generations did.
Only about one in five visitors to a national park site is nonwhite, according to a 2011 University of Wyoming report commissioned by the Park Service, and only about 1 in 10 is Hispanic — a particularly lackluster embrace by the nation’s fastest-growing demographic group, the New York Times reported.
One way the service has been fighting to break through is with a program called American Latino Expeditions, which invited Ms. Cain and her three colleagues. Groups like theirs went to three parks and recreation areas this summer — participants competed for the spots, with expenses paid for mostly through corporate donations — part of a multipronged effort to turn the Park Service’s demographic battleship around.
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