Over our years of visiting and earning Junior Ranger badges we’ve learned about some Junior Ranger Specialty Badges that help introduce kids or adults to different topics and history. A big bonus is most of these badges can be earned at home and we’ve pulled together a list so you can easily earn them yourself.
What is the Junior Ranger Program?
“Explore, Learn, and Protect!” The Junior Ranger motto is recited by children around the country; each taking an oath of their own to protect parks, continue to learn about parks, and share their own ranger story with friends and family.
The NPS Junior Ranger program is an activity based program conducted in almost all parks, and some Junior Ranger programs are national. Many national parks offer young visitors the opportunity to join the National Park Service “family” as Junior Rangers.
How to Earn a Junior Ranger Badge
The first step is to head to the visitor center/gift shop/information booth to find a Park Ranger. Once there ask the Park Ranger if they have any Junior Ranger booklets. The booklets are geared for ages 5-13, but anyone can do it. I like that there are different levels for the booklets. The work you have to complete depends on your age, and it’s different for each place. The booklet can take up to 2 hours to complete in most sites so please schedule that time accordingly. TIP: Many park sites allow you to complete the booklet later if you don’t have the time to complete it while in the park. Once completed send in the booklet to receive the badge. Ask a Park Ranger before you leave to see if they will mail the badges.
Once you’re completed the work you find a Park Ranger and then take the oath to help protect American and it’s Parks. Then the kids are presented with badge specific to the booklet they’ve completed.
Do All National Park Sites Have Junior Ranger Programs?
Many national park sites have a Junior Ranger program but not all. However the list of sites that have Junior Ranger Programs is expanding. Check out the complete list of Junior Ranger programs or look for programs in a certain region.
Complete List of Junior Ranger Programs
Junior Ranger Programs in the Northeast
Junior Ranger Programs in the Mid-Atlantic
Junior Ranger Programs in the Southeast
Junior Ranger Programs in the Midwest
Junior Ranger Programs in the Southwest
Junior Ranger Programs in the Rocky Mountains
Junior Ranger Programs in the West & Pacific
Junior Ranger Programs in the Pacific Northwest & Alaska
Junior Ranger Program Online
We’ve been asked “Can I earn a Junior Ranger Badge without visiting the park?” Sometimes you can’t make it to a specific National Park site. There are some badges that can be earned online by downloading the booklet or contacting the site by email/phone/mail. Once you complete the booklet you can mail it to the address listed within the booklet and the site will mail you back a badge and certificate. If this is available at the site it will be indicated with “**Online Available**”.
Junior Ranger Specialty Badges
Not all Junior Ranger programs are tied to a specific national park site. There are other fun Junior Ranger Specialty Badges you can earn at home or in specific National Park sites like Junior Archeologist Badge, Junior Cave Scientist Badge, and Junior Ranger Let’s Go Fishing! Badge. Here is the list of specialty badges:
Wondering what archeology is? Or what archeologists do? Are you curious about what people in the past did, or what they were like? We are looking for archeologist-wanna-bes to join us.
You can find the Junior Archeologist booklet here!
In the Junior Cave Scientist activity book, you will explore the fascinating and fragile underground world of caves, learn about the National Park System, and complete fun educational activities. Participants who complete the booklet will earn a badge, a certificate, and the title of Junior Cave Scientist.
You can find the Junior Cave Scientist booklet here!
2016 marked the 50th Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), signed into law by President Lyndon
B. Johnson on October 15, 1966. This historic legislation is arguably the most powerful historic preservation law in the United States. Without the NHPA the landscape of our country would have suffered irreparable loss of historic resources. To help celebrate and honor the passage of the NHPA and educate the next generation of historic preservation stewards a National Historic Preservation Junior Ranger Booklet was created.
You can find the Historic Preservation Junior Ranger booklet here!
Get reeled into fishing with the new Junior Ranger Let’s Go Fishing! program. Gear up and get ready to:
EXPLORE national parks, national wildlife refuges, and fish hatcheries to have safe and enjoyable fishing trips!
LEARN about fishing, aquatic habitats and fishing safety.PROTECT native fish and the habitats on which they depend.
You can find the Junior Ranger Let’s Go Fishing booklet here!
The Junior Ranger Night Explorer program is designed to encourage young park visitors to explore the dark side of their national parks. Find the North Star, track the phases of the moon, learn about stars and galaxies, and more!
You can find the Junior Ranger Night Explorer booklet here!
Discover and learn about park fossils in the Junior Paleontologist Program.
EXPLORE the ways that paleontologists work, and the methods and tools they use to understand ancient life.LEARN about Earth’s history, ancient plants and animals, and changes to past climate and environments.
PROTECT our national parks, including fossils and the rocks in which they are found.
You can find the Junior Paleontologist booklet here!
When you complete this booklet you will be ready to become a Railroad Explorer. This booklet will teach you about the transcontinental railroad, which helped link the United States from coast to coast.
You can find the Junior Ranger Railroad Explorer booklet here!
Listen Up! You can become a Junior Ranger Sounds Explorer. Follow Lucy the Listening Owl on a journey to:
EXPLORE sounds you hear in parks.
LEARN the science of sound and why sound is important to parks.
PROTECT sounds you hear in parks and at home.
You can find the Junior Ranger Sounds Explorer booklet here!
The National Park Service has a new Junior Ranger booklet co-designed in partnership with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The project is part of a multi-agency effort to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing on July 20, 2019. The Spaceflight Explorer Jr. Ranger book is available at participating national parks and through NASA.
You can find the Junior Ranger Spaceflight Explorer booklet here!
The Underground Railroad Junior Ranger Activity booklet, created by the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom P
rogram, has a wealth of activities, mainly for children, however adults can participate and learn right along with kids. Activities include: People of the Underground Railroad, Travel Routes, Glossary of Terms and much more.
You can find the Underground Railroad Junior Ranger booklet here!
The Junior Ranger Underwater Explorer program is full of fun activities to encourage youth to explore different environments, animals, and the people who work beneath the water’s surface.
You can find the Junior Ranger Underwater Explorer Booklet here! (also available in Spanish)
Designed for exploring wilderness, either at a wilderness area you are visiting, one near your home, one you would like to visit, or one you are just curious about.
You can find the Junior Ranger Wilderness Explorer booklet here!
So many amazing programs and great way to introduce things you may not know about or that spark an interest for kids and adults.
Have you earned any of the specialty badges?