Interview: Terrence J Talks Being The New Face Of The ‘Find Your Park’ Campaign

Terrence J has consistently proven to be a Jack-of-all-trades. From hosting 106 & Park, to E! News, to acting, book writing and all the credentials in between, the 32 year-old New York native has shown skilled versatility among a vast number of different arenas.

Nowm Mr. Jenkins is taking on another endeavor to add to his impressive resume. He’s recently become a Centennial Ambassador for the “Find Your Park” campaign in celebration of the National Park Services’ 100th anniversary. But the bigger purpose for Terrence and those involved in the campaign, is to get people to find, visit and appreciate the national parks our country has to offer.

He says that finding Yosemite National Park has completely changed his outlook on the importance of nature.

“Taking that trip to Yosemite has completely transformed me,” he told VIBE. “I definitely recommend going the full distance and stepping foot at one of the national parks that’s close to you—to really get that outdoors experience, where if you’re in any city you would appreciate it.”

And Terrence J is in good company. First Lady Michelle Obama and Mrs. Laura Bush will both serve as honorary co-chairs of the “Find Your Park” initiative to help spread the word for the centennial anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016.

“I look forward to celebrating the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary and encouraging people across the country to ‘Find Your Park,’ whether it’s in your backyard, in your hometown, or in one of our beautiful national parks,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “I am thrilled to be serving as the honorary co-chair of the National Parks Centennial Celebration with First Lady Laura Bush. Since the launch of Let’s Move! Outside in 2010, the National Park Foundation has been encouraging kids and families to get active, get outside, and take advantage of America’s great outdoors.”

Here, Terrence J dishes out on how the campaign will run, his experience visiting Yosemite National Park, and reveals who will be a part of the campaign. – Richy Rosario

VIBE: What spurred your interest in playing a role in this campaign?
Terrence J: Well, growing up I really didn’t have the opportunity to go to national parks as a kid. I didn’t really know much about it. And my mom didn’t know much about it. So as an adult, now that I’m learning more about them, it’s a really cool thing to do. I just went to Yosemite National Park and I put my phone down and just really enjoyed nature. I just had a fantastic time. Now, I’m just encouraging other people to go check out the national parks; they are amazing. They are all in our backyards so to speak and I just think it’s something really cool to do.

How did you find Yosemite?
I have a friend that works with me at E! and she said she had just come back [from Yosemite] with her family. And they went on a camping trip and she was talking about how beautiful it was, and just all the different landscapes that are there. And how fantastic it was. So I was like, ‘I’ve never done anything like it, I spend most of my time traveling back and forth from LA to New York to Miami and I’ve never taken the time to really enjoy nature like that.’ So it was just something I did. And when I went, I really understood why so many people go. The air just felt cleaner and clearer; the scenery was beautiful, the food tasted fresher, I had an amazing time. And it was just good to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. So I just had a really foreign experience.

Tell me about the type of campaigns you’ll be doing.
Well, you’ll see me talking about it on television, Instagram and Twitter. There is a contest actually, where we want to know about your park and how you found your park. So go to Findyourpark.com, and there is a cool contest for the centennial where you can talk about how you found your park. There are some really cool people involved with this campaign: Bella Thorne, Mary Lambert, Roselyn Sanchez and Bill Nye.

It’s all about telling people how cool they are, it’s just one of those resources we overlook and is so important for us to go out there and experience it. When I’m 100 years old, hopefully and I look back at life it’s not going to be the hustle and bustle and grind of jumping in and out of cabs; it’s also going to be about the beautiful things that you get to see in your lifetime and experience. And you don’t have to travel across the world to go do it, a lot of it is in your backyard and we don’t just don’t really appreciate it and enjoy it as much as we should. And that’s really what the campaign is about. It’s about utilizing something that we have at out disposal as Americans. And going out there finding our parks and enjoying them.

How do you think this generation can benefit from this?
I think this generation can benefit the most from this. I grew up in the ’80s–and this was before a lot of technology–I don’t think there were really video games until I was maybe 8 or 9 years old. So I spent a lot of time outside riding my bike, and playing basketball in the park. When I would go down to North Carolina to visit my grandma, there were streams and we looked for crayfish and crawfish.

I was on a flight earlier and I was sitting next to a lady who had a baby on her lap, and the baby couldn’t have been more than two years old, and was swiping through an iPad faster than me. And so I thought: ‘At such a young age kids are exposed to technology.’ And when you see a group of friends hanging out, everybody in the group will be looking down at their phone or at their device. And I feel like a lot of times you miss so much of life, there’s so much to learn from nature. There is so much to connect to from mother nature, and I feel like if you spend all your time looking at screens, you’re missing out on a huge part of life.

And that’s why is so important for us all to find our parks. And look at the parks that are in your backyards and the big ones that you’ve always wanted to go to. And enjoy these parks because there is so much you’re missing out on.

Do you see any challenges with this project?
Just getting the word out, but I don’t necessarily see it as a challenge. Once you go and plan a trip with your crew or with your friends and all go hang out at the park, you’re going to be hooked just like I am and you’re going to want to go back.

Photo Credit: Instagram