At BACKPACKER, it's rare that we jump on a soapbox other than to put the beer out of bear range, but this time it's worth it: The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is in the running to win up to $1 million from the JPMorgan Chase Bank Foundation. But they need your help—Chase is deciding who to give the money to by hosting a Facebook voting competition, of which the ATC is a finalist.
Why should you give your prized Facebook vote to the ATC? For one, they're the only trails-based charity in the running, and secondly they plan to use the $1 million to get 1 million kids outside. Here's how—the ATC will use its infrastructure to:
- Develop Internet-based youth fairs, scholarship contests, and a variety of Web sites to engage young people in studying and caring for the trail—as not only a world-renowned recreational footpath but also a unique “classroom” in biodiversity, ecological adaptation, wildlife migration, and watershed fragility.
- Develop applications for cellular telephones and other GPS-enabled devices that would allow sharing among teachers of curricula using the trail as a subject focus. Other applications would promote communities adjacent to the 2,179-mile footpath. (The trail goes through or within 5 miles of 105 towns in 14 states between Maine and Georgia.)
- Drawing on its three-year-old, growing network of trained “Trail to Every Classroom” educators, attract 300 contributors by the end of 2012 to a teachers’ Web site that would parallel a kids-only site.
Sounds good to us. Ready to help? You can find detailed instructions on how to vote for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy on Facebook here.