More than 135,000 kids will have the opportunity to visit national parks in the 2015-2016 school year thanks to 113 grants from the National Park Foundation’s Open OutDoors for Kids program. “Through programs like Open OutDoors for Kids and the Find Your Park/Encuentra Tu Parque movement, we are creating the next generation of park stewards, connecting youth across the country to these special places and inspiring their natural curiosity and love for them,” said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation. “We are grateful to all of our partners, including Disney, that make such programs possible and help more people find their park.” “By connecting our nation’s great parks and public lands with kids at such a young age, we’re building a strong generation of park stewards who will care for and protect these treasured places into the next 100 years,” said Jonathan B. Jarvis, director of the National Park Service. “Thanks to our philanthropic partner, the National Park Foundation, we’re able to strengthen and enrich our parks through the lasting bonds these experiences create.” The 113 grants announced today total $801,488 and provide transportation and materials funding to make national park field trips, citizen science projects, recreation activities, experiential learning opportunities, and more possible. Since 2014, Disney has been the lead sponsor of Open OutDoors for Kids, helping youth experience a national park and making it possible for more than 300,000 students to visit national parks – 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:
- Bandelier National Monument More than 300 tribal youth will learn about their ancestors who inhabited the cavates and Pajarito Plateau centuries ago, the history and culture of Bandelier, in addition to fire ecology and fire management.
- Channel Islands National Park Approximately 1,600 fourth grade students from the local community will do a live dive, terrestrial live hike, and visit the Channel Islands National Park Visitor Center. Many of the students have had minimal or no exposure to a marine environment.
- Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site 225 third graders from Boston Public Schools will learn about restored landscapes, historic buildings, and archival collections through the park’s award- winning education program, Good Neighbors: Landscape Design & Community Building.
- Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park Approximately 800 Paulding County fifth grade students will hike in the footsteps of soldiers who fought a key battle in the American Civil War. The experience will help them imagine what it was like to pull cannons up a mountain, live off of daily rations, and wear a uniform.
- Kobuk Valley National Park 20 Inupiaq Eskimo students will attend a science camp in the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes wilderness, and for many it’ll be their first time at the park. Students will learn how to prepare for a camping trip and they’ll participate in hands-on biology-focused activities.
For the full list of park grantees, and their projects, visit www.nationalparks.org/ticket-adventure. Open OutDoors for Kids also supports the White House’s Every Kid in a Park initiative by raising funds to help connect fourth graders to America’s federal public lands and waters. Individuals, foundations, and corporations can visitwww.nationalparks.org/everykidinapark to contribute to the effort. The program addresses barriers and issues that prevent America’s youth, particularly multicultural and underserved populations, from participating in the multitude of opportunities and benefits of getting outdoors.