Since we launched in April 2019, our vision has been to build a solid foundation of support for Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site and Wright Brothers National Memorial, three amazing national parks that not only preserve our unique local environment and Outer Banks history, but also world history. As we begin a new year together, we want to celebrate what you helped our Outer Banks national parks accomplish in 2021!
Protecting Banker Ponies and Sea Turtles
Adopt a Pony: Legend has it the Ocracoke Banker ponies arrived at Ocracoke Island with shipwrecked explorers in the 16th or 17th century, and they have called the island home ever since. While many of these early ponies were claimed by residents, some were left to roam wild. The National Park Service took over their care and maintenance in the 1960s to keep them safe as the island’s human population continued to grow.
Through our Adopt a Pony program, you can preserve living history by symbolically adopting an Ocracoke pony with a gift of $45 or more. Your support of the ponies – individually or of the herd – helps pay for their ongoing care and feeding. When you adopt a pony or give to the herd, you will receive an adoption certificate and a picture of your pony or of the herd to keep!
In 2021, you raised more than $12,000 to support our 14 beautiful Ocracoke Banker ponies!
Adopt a Sea Turtle Nest: Did you know that biologists at Cape Hatteras National Seashore carefully track, learn from and protect hundreds of sea turtle nests each summer?
While human visitors flocked to the Seashore in record numbers this past summer, over 300 sea turtles also made their way to the Seashore to nest.
Through our Adopt a Sea Turtle Nest program, you help us protect this special place by symbolically adopting a sea turtle nest with a minimum donation of $100. Funds raised through Adopt a Sea Turtle Nest provide for projects and programs that preserve and enhance Cape Hatteras National Seashore today and for future generations.
We are thrilled to share that in 2021 over 19,000 sea turtle hatchlings made their way to the ocean and you raised $10,451 to protect the Seashore!
Stay tuned for the opening of the 2022 season of Adopt a Sea Turtle Nest!
What’s New in Our Outer Banks National Parks
Views from Your Parks Webcam Project: We premiered the first of three Outer Banks national park webcams during National Park Week in April 2021.
Through a partnership with the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau and Surfline, we installed a live-feed webcam on the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, which offers you a glimpse of the incredible view from the top of this iconic structure from wherever you are! When the Lighthouse reopens to the public after its extensive renovation, this webcam will continue to allow those who may not be able to physically climb the Lighthouse a real-time way to stay connected to the park. In the coming months, webcams will also be installed at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site and at Wright Brothers National Memorial.
Kayak Launch at Oregon Inlet: In August 2021, we helped our parks unveil the first designated kayak launch at Cape Hatteras National Seashore. This new mobility-friendly kayak launch at the popular Oregon Inlet Fishing Center encourages locals and visitors to explore our coastal environment and provides a safe way for non-motorized water sport enthusiasts to enjoy the beautiful Pamlico Sound. Thank you to our local sponsors, TowneBank and Ocean Atlantic Rentals, as well as Bass Pro Shops for making this project possible.
Wright Route: Myths of an aviation rivalry between Ohio — the “Birthplace of Aviation” — and North Carolina — “First in Flight” — have circulated for years.
To put that rivalry to rest, we have partnered with National Aviation Heritage Area in Dayton, Ohio; First Flight Society in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina; and the National Park Service at Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park and Wright Brothers National Memorial to launch the “Wright Route,” a virtual and in-person learning experience that provides you with a fuller picture of the Wright brothers’ lives and work The partnership also promotes collaboration between the two national parks and encourages tourism in Ohio and North Carolina. We debuted our new website, www.WrightRoute.org, in December 2021.
Bringing Our Parks to You – Virtual Experiences in 2021
Coffee With a Ranger
We launched our spring and summer Coffee With a Ranger series during National Park Week in April 2021. We spoke with some of our Outer Banks national parks staff about the impact of our three parks in our local Outer Banks community and beyond, sea turtles, summer ranger programs and beach and ocean safety.
Click here for the full Coffee With a Ranger playlist.
Honoring Juneteenth and the Roanoke Island Freedmen’s Colony
Did you know that Fort Raleigh National Historic Site was part of the Underground Railroad and played a key role in helping formerly enslaved African Americans establish a new life after the Civil War?
In celebration of Juneteenth – a day that marks when the last enslaved African Americans were finally freed after the Civil War – we had the opportunity to attend and film Ranger Rebekah’s talk to learn more about the Freedman’s Colony on Roanoke Island. The Freedman’s Colony was a beacon of hope and a first light of freedom for what would grow to be a community of more than 3,000 men, women and children and in the late 1800s. While it was a safe haven for individuals and families, it was not without its challenges and hardships.
Click here to watch Ranger Rebekah’s presentation and learn about the Freedmen’s Colony on Roanoke Island.
Sea Turtle Nest Excavation and Hatchling Release on Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Locals and visitors alike were able watch a live sea turtle nest excavation and a live sea turtle hatchling release on Cape Hatteras National Seashore this past summer via our Facebook page!
This virtual experience allowed the public to see firsthand the conservation work our park staff undertakes each day to better understand and protect the sea turtles that visit the Outer Banks each year. Special thanks to the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau and the staff at Cape Hatteras National Seashore for making this virtual experience possible!
Click here to watch the sea turtle nest excavation and learn from biologists at Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
Click here to watch the sea turtle hatchling release and learn from biologists at Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
Uncovering History: Archaeological Dig at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site
Fort Raleigh is best known as the site of the “Lost” Colony — one of the first attempted English settlements in the “New World” in 1587. There are many theories about the disappearance of the settlers, and there is still a lot to learn about their lives, as well as the settlement two years prior to their arrival and their interactions with the Carolina Algonquian peoples who lived on Roanoke Island.
In September 2021, park rangers at Fort Raleigh and archeologists from the First Colony Foundation dug into the mystery and we were able to bring the action to you on Facebook! Special thanks to the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, the staff at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site and the First Colony Foundation for making this virtual experience possible!
Click here to watch the excavation and learn from Ranger Josh and First Colony Foundation archaeologists.
Celebration of the 118th Anniversary of the First Flight
On Dec. 17, we celebrated the 118th anniversary of the first flight in both Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina (the site of the first flight), and Dayton, Ohio (the birthplace of aviation), by hosting a joint livestream on Facebook.
Special thanks to the National Park Service at Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park and Wright Brothers National Memorial, First Flight Society and National Aviation Heritage Area for making this virtual event possible!
Click here to watch the celebrations in North Carolina and Ohio.
Outer Banks Forever is on YouTube!
We launched our YouTube channel last year, which is a central hub for our virtual events and virtual learning opportunities. Check it out and subscribe here.
We know we say it often, but we cannot do what we do without you! Your generosity has allowed our Outer Banks national parks to continue providing locals and visitors with engaging and safe experiences despite the challenges they have faced over the past two years. We are so grateful for your support, and we look forward to seeing you in our Outer Banks national parks soon!
Photo and Video Credits: National Park Service, Jason Cole Photography, REAL Watersports, First Colony Foundation, Library of Congress.