Trip to national park inspires successful business
When Jennifer Haywood and her family traveled to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park a few years ago, it inspired her to start a new business. Two of her children were part of the junior ranger program while they were visiting and camping.
The junior ranger program is an outreach activity at national and some state parks introducing children to the work of the park rangers. These activities help kids explore and learn about national parks and how they can help protect them. It is a program with flexibility to interact with the park individually as well as with other kids and park rangers. Participants have an opportunity to use their interests in art, science, history and nature as they explore the park.
During their trip they went into the park store to purchase a game, or something to further their education, and didn’t find exactly what they were looking for.
Her daughter was 8 years old at the time. She drew a picture of a possible “Jr. Ranger” game as Jennifer and her family drove back to Michigan. Jennifer, a professional illustrator for more than 15 years, took her daughter’s concept and began to draw.
Haywood States, “I wanted to combine my interests of travel, art and education into a new line of products for children. I want to teach kids about our great country and all of the wonderful places that can be found here.”
She adds, “The Jr. RangerLand products are made in the USA, most of them in the Midwest.” In addition to puzzles and board games she has created several new card games this year.
New for 2012 are the North American Animal Tracks puzzle, North American Animal Tracks matching game, the Skunk in the Campground game, the National Park War card game and the Ocean Animal Splash card game.
Several of her products have won awards. Last year, the Jr. RangerLand board game won Game of the Year from Creative Child magazine. Just recently, they announced that five of their games and books won awards in 2012.
Jr. RangerLand games and books can be found in most national park visitor center stores, many state parks, museums, and at outdoor retailers including REI and Gander Mountain. More information about these games is available at www.jr-rangerland.com.
Haywood and her family live in Hastings, Michigan. They returned recently from a national park trip to Wyoming and Montana. There, they worked on new ideas for their 2013 line.
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