Last week and half was the 21st annual celebration of National Public Lands Day. Public lands are all of those lands that belong to the public such as parks, forests, grasslands, scenic by-ways and waterways. These public lands include state parks, nature reserves, national forests and parks and other public monuments.

The Gateway Arch

I'm here at the Gateway Arch, a National Park Service Site in St. Louis with my Family

All public lands, whether city, state, or national have 5 things in common

1. They are owned by everyone and no one. Each citizen has a stake in its health but no one person can claim it for his or her own.

2. They are managed by our civil servants, such as local, state or federal employees.

3. They are home to many wild creatures including threatened and endangered plant, animal, and bug species.

4. We are all responsible, individually and collectively for taking care of this land and its wildlife by not littering or removing necessary items from it.

5. These are special places that should be around for generations of ALL Americans and visitors to enjoy.

National Public Lands day is celebrated in nearly every community with a large public service event. The event keeps the promise of the Civilian Conservation Corps, the "tree army" that worked from 1933-1942 to preserve and protect America's natural heritage.

This annual event educates Americans about critical environmental and natural resources issues and the need for shared stewardship of these valued, irreplaceable lands. It builds partnerships between the public sector and the local community based upon mutual interests in the enhancement and restoration of America's public lands. Finally, it improves public lands for outdoor recreation, with volunteers assisting land managers in hands-on work.

Now, it's your turn. Highlight your own Urban Science Adventure. Did you participate in a National Public Lands Day activity? If not, it's okay. You can still participate because events are happening throughout the autumn months. Visit the link and discover what's happening in your town.

This year's theme is Helping Hands for America's Lands.

This is a perfect community service or service learning credit opportunity for high school and college students. It also counts as a badge activity for scouts. And hey, let's not overlook an opportunity to earn extra credit for your life science and environmental science classes - middle and high schoolers.

Finally, here's one more thing you can do. Enter the Get to Know Contest. Deadline is November 1st.

It is a contest to encourage young people, ages 18 and younger to get outdoors and get to know their wild neighbors. Sound familiar?

Use these opportunities to win prizes and have your work published - which is a great way to beef up college and scholarship applications.

Still need a little encouragement to get outdoors? Then check out the National Parks Conservation Association for highlights about what's special about National Parks and events happening near you; and visit Outdoor Afro to connect with other nature lovers of every experience level to discover fun family friendly public lands activities happening in your town.

Write me and tell me all about your Urban Science Adventures! ©. Share pictures, too.

- Contributions by CaTameron Bobino