A 103-year-old woman has become one of the newest junior rangers at Grand Canyon National Park, some 34 years after her first visit to the Arizona landmark.
Rose Torphy, a mother of three and great-great-grandmother of 10, got the itch to become a park steward during a visit in January, her second trip to the 1,900-square-mile site that was designated as a national park 100 years ago on Feb. 26, 1919, ABC News reports.
“I started talking to people about the junior ranger program because it teaches kids to protect the canyon,” Torphy told “Good Morning America,” referencing her visit to the park’s store. “My parents taught me to care for the land, but not all the kids have that.”
In 1985, “when she was able to walk around,” Torphy first visited the iconic national monument and caught the bug thanks to its stunning vistas and array of geological features, she said. But the centenarian experienced the canyon while sitting in her wheelchair during her trip last month — and was able to “go to the edge.”
The junior ranger program revolves around education and participants pledge to protect the World Heritage Site for future generations. They also complete an activity book about the national park with help from the Grand Canyon Conservancy, which funds the program.
Alysa Ojeda, marketing and public relations manager for the organization, told ABC News that it had to “get creative” with its programming during the government shutdown, which was going on during Torphy’s visit.
Cheri Stoneburner, Torphy’s daughter, said the vacation left a lasting impact on her mother, who hasn’t removed her junior ranger pin from her coat since leaving the park. Stoneburger was also impressed with the site’s access for disabled visitors, including ramps.
“She’s a spokesperson for the park now,” Stoneburger said. “Everywhere we go, people ask her about her junior ranger pin and she says, ‘You’re never too old to see the Grand Canyon!’”
Stoneburger also shared photographs of the visit on her Facebook page, complete with a video of Torphy signing her official junior ranger certificate.
“She is probably the oldest Scorpion in the 11 and above category,” Stoneburger joked.