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Frank and Audrey Peterman Discovered National Parks: They’ve Never Been the Same.
In August 1995, Audrey and Frank Peterman got into their Ford F-150 truck in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to drive around the entire United States. With a tent and camping gear in the covered cab and no itinerary, they drove and camped across the country for 12,500 miles, marveling at the spectacularly beautiful sights they encountered. Discovering the special places that are protected in the National Park System “for the benefit and enjoyment of the American people,” they were shocked to see that almost everyone around them was white. The Petermans decided that instead of “complaining about the dark,” they’d shine the light on the national parks so that all Americans feel invited and welcome. They have been pursuing that mission for almost 30 years.
“We were trying to expose people to the overwhelming beauty and lively history in the national parks,” says Mrs. Peterman. “So imagine our shock when we learned about climate change in 1997 and the dire effects it would have. We started paying attention right then and we’ve been sounding the alarm ever since.”
Books by Audrey Peterman
She’s been likened to Joan of Arc, and Audrey and Frank Peterman are credited with “helping prepare America’s national parks for their second century of service.”
“It was you and Frank who started all of the awareness of non-white connection to the parks, seemingly a century ago. Progress, as always, was slow, and much remains to be accomplished. But everything takes a starter, from sourdough bread to the constructs in the minds of people and agencies. You, Audrey, were the critical starter. The pioneer. The person who never gives up, yet remains human and lovely at all times. Thank you
so very much.” - J. Reynolds. Former deputy director of the National Park Service.
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