At Point Reyes National Seashore, Ticket to Ride funds supported transportation for 10 recently arrived international refugee children to attend Point Reyes Nature Science Camp and contributed to the cost of bus transportation for 530 San Francisco Bay Area students, teachers, and chaperones to attend School Science Camp. Both programs are residential, full immersion, environmental education experiences based out of the Clem Miller Environmental Education Center, a sustainably designed residential center in the Philip Burton Wilderness of Point Reyes National Seashore. Campers participate in habitat exploration, hiking, canoeing, wildlife viewing, improvisational theater, and nature drawing. According to park staff, “Lack of transportation has been identified as a key barrier to National Seashore access and program participation for underserved youth.”
Staff from Vallejo City Unified School District noted, “Many of these kids have not ventured beyond their neighborhoods. At camp, they have many exciting, ‘first’ experiences: first time on a hike, first time at the beach, first time seeing the Milky Way and shooting stars, first time in a canoe, first time seeing wildlife. But more important, they learn that there are opportunities for them beyond their doorsteps and neighborhoods.”
Point Reyes National Seashore Association’s, the national parks’ Friend Group, education programs are designed to establish and enhance basic ecological literacy and to generate self-reliance, encourage friendships that transcend cultural and socioeconomic borders, and promote physical and emotional health and well-being among youth.
Since 2011, the National Park Foundation has awarded more than $745,000 through 109 grants to nearly 90 different parks across the country, providing transportation funding for 100,000 students. Many of these students have never before visited a national park. Ticket to Ride allows teachers to connect their students with national parks in an environment that encourages place-based learning in hands-on, meaningful ways.