Buck Tracks: Field Notes from Marie Buck, WNPA CEO

I am consistently inspired by the amazing work our team does to advance our mission to support each of our more than 70 parks throughout the West. I am able to dedicate myself more deeply to our work because I know I am on a team of passionate and authentic professionals who care about protecting the park experience and our precious resources now and for all time. Read the updates from our organization in the latest edition of my field notes, Buck Tracks.

JEDI and People Rocket

As we head into fall, we begin the next phase of our Justice Equity Diversity initiative. WNPA and Eastern National received a Strong Parks, Strong Communities grant from the National Park Foundation in 2022, positioning both organizations to strengthen internal community and develop tools to advance JEDI principles throughout our organization and the National Park Service (NPS). We have partnered with People Rocket, a “global, multidisciplinary team” that will work collaboratively to help us cultivate and grow our amazing community of passionate professionals.

Midyear Appeal Campaign: Listen, Amplify, Protect


During this year’s midyear appeal campaign, we stayed true to our JEDI principles and shared stories of how direct aid advanced inclusivity, diversity, stewardship, and a sense of belonging at our partner parks. Philanthropy is about more than collecting dollars—it is about instilling and rejuvenating lifelong relationships with parks.

From right to left, CMO Michael Matthews, Senior Marketing Manager Maria DelVecchio, Writer Julie Thompson at GCOT in Tucson, Arizona.

Arizona Governor’s Conference on Tourism


In July, three members of our team attended the Arizona Governor’s Conference on Tourism (GCOT), a collaborative and dynamic conference with cutting-edge presentations ranging from social media content production to multicultural marketing strategies. Our partner parks were featured in so many pictures, presentations, and stories—an important reminder that we support a vital part of Arizona’s tourism industry and our partner parks truly are world-class destinations.

Frank “Boss” Pinkley and the group at Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, birthplace of WNPA (courtesy of NPS).

Anniversary of Cooperating Associations


As WNPA commemorates the 100th anniversary of cooperating associations, we remember the rich history of these invaluable organizations that have played a significant role in preserving and enriching the nation’s most treasured natural and cultural landscapes. For a century, cooperating associations have been a vital source of support for national parks, working collaboratively with parks to educate and inspire generations of visitors.

WNPA’s 85th Anniversary


On July 22, WNPA celebrated 85 years of service to national parks. On this special occasion, I pause to consider how much we’ve grown in our scope and mission since Dale King and Frank “Boss” Pinkley successfully gained permission from the Department of the Interior to form a group to support national monuments in the Southwest amid the devastating effects of the Great Depression.

New Trader Wallace James Jr. at Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site (courtesy of Wallace James Jr.).

Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site Welcomes New Trader 


Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site welcomes full-time Trader Wallace James Jr. Coming from Cornfields, Arizona, Wallace is Tsé Ńjíkiní—Cliff Dweller/Among the Rocks/Rebuilding a Rock House/Honey Combed, born for Naakaii Dine’é—Mexican Clan. Honágháahnii—One Walks Around You/Place of Walking/People Formed of Her Back are his maternal grandfathers and Tó Dích’íi’nii—Bitter Water are his paternal grandfathers. As we welcome Wallace, we can continue to support the Ganado and Diné communities through trading events and educational programs.

Nicodemus National Historic Site hosts their annual Homecoming and Emancipation Celebration (courtesy of NPS).

Emancipation Celebration at Nicodemus National Historic Site


In late July, Nicodemus National Historic Site celebrated the 145th Emancipation Celebration and Homecoming. As the oldest and only remaining African American settlement west of the Mississippi, Nicodemus represents perseverance, ingenuity, the triumph over struggle, and Black excellence. Every year in late July, descendants of Nicodemus return to the town to honor the lives of their ancestors and the ongoing community of families and businesses that survived the immense hardships of slavery and racism that continued after enslaved people were officially emancipated. I honor Nicodemus’s legacy of brilliance and am so proud that WNPA is in partnership with this remarkable site.

Juneteenth celebration in Topeka, Kansas (courtesy of NPS).

Juneteenth Celebration at Brown v. Board of Education National Historical Park 


Image caption: This building is Monroe Elementary School which serves as the Brown v. Board of Education Visitor Center. It was one of four segregated schools for African American children in the city of Topeka, during the time of the Brown v. Board of Education court case. (Courtesy of Fatimah Purvis, NPS.)

Brown v. Board of Education National Historical Park celebrated Juneteenth at a special parade hosted by The Topeka Family and Friends of the Juneteenth Celebration. This parade took place on the street of the Brown v. Board of Education schoolhouse. The site used direct aid from WNPA to participate in this monumental event that celebrates the official end of chattel slavery in the Unites States. As we continue our work to support parks, we remember that we are part of a bigger story.

We know what people find in our parks—healing, happiness, transformation, and so much more. And we stay committed to helping more and more people find themselves in a national park.

Be well,

Marie Buck

President and CEO