WASHINGTON, Sept. 1, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- 250,000 fourth graders will have the opportunity to visit national parks in the 2016-2017 school year, thanks to 129 grants from the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America's national parks. These grants, part of the Foundation's Open OutDoors for Kids program, support the White House youth initiative Every Kid in a Park.
The grants announced today total $2.4 million and provide funding to remove barriers to accessing national parks, with a special focus on underserved and urban communities. With cutbacks in school funding for field trips, this strategic funding will help provide comprehensive access to natural, cultural, and historical parks.
"These grants are planting the seeds for lifelong relationships with national parks and their programs," said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation. "By providing access to transformative experiences like listening to the sound of birds chirping, walking the halls of a school that tell a civil rights story, looking up at a dark night sky, or pitching a tent with a friend for the first time, these children are forever impacted. We appreciate the power of national parks and, through our support, the National Park Foundation hopes to share them with as many kids as possible."
The Every Kid in a Park program is an Administration-wide effort between the Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of the Army, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Department of Education. The National Park Foundation is leading the on-the-ground efforts for the field trip grants.
"National parks are some of the most amazing places in the world and this program gives young people the opportunity to experience these wonders first hand," said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. "I know our future is in good hands when I see the excitement of fourth graders exploring their national parks with their friends, families, and classmates."
Since 2014, Disney has been the lead sponsor of Open OutDoors for Kids, opening a world of possibilities, inspiration and adventure for young people. Collaborations between schools, teachers, youth groups, Friends Groups, and other partner organizations make each grantee's project possible. Examples include:
Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site (Kansas)
The program will provide upwards of 1600 students with the opportunity to visit this historic site and participate in interactive activities regarding water, plants, land, animals and history. Through a series of hands-on stations, the students will explore historic figures and moments in civil rights as well as interact with and recognize past American cultural experiences and the current natural environment around them.
Chamizal National Memorial (Texas)
More than 3,000 students will participate in the Chamizal Camping Academy to learn the basic aspects of outdoor activities and camping through five hands-on activity stations. The fourth graders will then hike at Guadalupe Mountains National Park using skills gained from the Chamizal Camping Academy.
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (Georgia)
This project will bring approximately 1,000 under-served fourth graders from the metro Atlanta area to Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area for both first-time educational programming and attendance at the Georgia Children's Wonder of Water Festival.
Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve (Alaska)
36 students, the majority from remote communities whose ancestors were the first habitants of Glacier Bay, will have an opportunity to experience the astounding glacial activity and natural beauty of the park. Through the program, students will build friendships, discover new career paths, and find meaning and community in the natural and cultural history of Glacier Bay
Pinnacles National Park (California)
Nearly 500 students will enjoy a 2.2-mile hike through the Bear Gulch cave where they will use the etiquette and conservation skills they will have learned in their pre-visit classroom activity. Three curriculum-based, hands-on learning activities will be conducted over the 2.5-hour hike. The learning activities focus on earth science, biodiversity, and conservation.
The National Park Foundation wishes to thank The Ahmanson Foundation; Annenberg Foundation; Disney; Eddie Bauer; Ernesto M. Vasquez, AIA, NCARB; GRoW@Annenberg; The Kendeda Fund; Phillip R. Cox; Stephen L. Hightower; Toray Composites (America) Inc.; and an anonymous donor; for their generous support of Open OutDoors for Kids and Every Kid in a Park field trip grants.
Individuals, foundations, and corporations can visit www.nationalparks.org/everykidinapark to contribute to the National Park Foundation's efforts to support connecting kids to national parks. You can also view the full list of grantees, and their projects, on the same website.
To participate in the Every Kid in a Park program, fourth graders nationwide can visit www.everykidinapark.gov and download a free pass.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION
The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America's national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service. Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help PROTECT more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts, CONNECT all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history, and INSPIRE the next generation of park stewards. In 2016, commemorating the National Park Service's 100th anniversary, the Foundation launched The Centennial Campaign for America's National Parks, a $350 million comprehensive fundraising campaign to strengthen and enhance the future of these national treasures for the next hundred years. Find out more and become a part of the national park community at www.nationalparks.org.
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SOURCE National Park Foundation