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July Jefferson Award winner: Carrie Sinkler-Parker

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COLUMBIA (WACH)-Carrie Sinkler-Parker says it warms her heart to see children arrive each summer at the Congaree National Park.

In 2016, she began working with the park's staff to give students in rural areas an opportunity some may never have, "Some of the children have never been out of their counties, says Sinkler-Parker, "and then coming to a national park and its the only national park in the state of South Carolina, so for them to have that exposure and to have that experience I really should say is just phenomenal."

She arranged for park rangers to visit area libraries, introducing students to the Junior Ranger Program and worked to secure a $9,000 grant to provide transportation funds to get the students to the park.

"It prepares them to be exposed to changing things in the community. We hope that this opportunity will help them to see that they don't really have to live in that community and just know what's going on in their community but there are other things in South Carolina in particular, but more importantly there are other things that they can do," said Sinkler-Parker.

Through her efforts Sinkler-Parker has given more than a 1,000 4th graders a chance to explore and learn.

Her work is also shared with other organizations through the National Park Foundation.

Sinkler-Parker says, "the bonus of this whole project is that they are sworn in as junior rangers."

"All of the education is not in the classroom and I need to emphasize that, it's what you experience outside the classroom that augments your education and your quest to really want to learn more"

Sinkler-Parker is also a member of the National Council of Negro Women, and has served on several boards. She was named a 1995 delegate to the White House Conference on Aging.

She says anyone can be involved in their community it just takes one thing, "There are thousands of things that can be done in the community, its just a matter of your taking the initiative to do those things that can help."

If you know someone who you think is deserving of a Jefferson Award, nominate them here.

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