WASHINGTON – The National Park Foundation (NPF) and Union Pacific Railroad today announced a continuation and expansion of their partnership to help connect students to national parks. This commitment advances NPF's goal to double the reach of its Open OutDoors for Kids (OOK) program over the next four years.
“Union Pacific’s support is paramount to the National Park Foundation’s mission to connect all people to national parks, especially elementary school-aged kids,” said National Park Foundation President and CEO Will Shafroth. “Thanks to Union Pacific's generosity, our goal is to connect another one million kids to parks over the next four years.”
At the core of OOK, NPF is making educational experiences in parks more accessible for all people, with a specific focus on under-resourced populations and communities of color, in both rural and urban settings across the country. OOK connects elementary school-aged youth to national parks through field trips, classroom activities, and educational activities. Programs such as OOK help students, teachers, and families feel safe and supported as they explore national parks. For roughly two-thirds of the students, it is their first time in a national park.
"Union Pacific is proud to support the National Park Foundation and its efforts to introduce an entire generation of America's youth to the wonders of its breathtaking parks that at times go unnoticed in the very communities in which they live and which we operate," said Union Pacific Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Scott Moore. "We believe in making parks more accessible to everyone starting at a young age, regardless of geographic location or economic status.”
As a premier partner of NPF’s Youth Education and Engagement initiative, Union Pacific’s four-year, $4 million partnership will build on its previous three-year commitment as the largest private sponsor of OOK. In total, Union Pacific’s seven-year investment will help ensure an entire generation of kids within the communities where it operates will have had an opportunity to connect with national parks.
“We look forward to working with Union Pacific to expand our impact and reach even more students,” said National Park Foundation Chief Program Officer LaTresse Snead. “Together, we can help ensure that kids experience the awe and wonder of national parks, enriching their lives with curiosity and building the next generation of park champions.”
During the last three years, Union Pacific has helped connect over 125,000 students to national parks across the 23 states where it operates.
At Mississippi National River and Recreation Area in Minnesota, NPF and Union Pacific are supporting the Mississippi Park Connection’s outdoor youth education programs with the OOK grants. These programs provide a fresh, hands-on approach to the ways learning can be integrated with the outdoors, empowering students to become avid learners, and enabling them to begin building a lifelong relationship with the Mississippi River.
“Thanks to the generous support of Union Pacific and the National Park Foundation, the Mississippi Park Connection has dramatically expanded its capacity to serve elementary school students in Minneapolis and Saint Paul,” said Mississippi Park Connection Executive Director Katie Nyberg. “During the past three years, we have expanded field trip opportunities, including virtual field trips and classroom visits, supported a cadre of ‘river educators’ to work side by side with National Park Service Rangers, and offered summer workshops that provide an inspiring introduction to the national park.”
From lessons of courage and determination at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, to exploring new terrain at Rocky Mountain National Park, to musical history at New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, OOK has enabled students across the country to experience the cultural, natural, and historical heritage of national parks first-hand.
Union Pacific’s support to NPF also includes the release of the Junior Ranger Railroad Explorer booklet and a $1 million contribution to the establishment of Pullman National Monument. Union Pacific's history with national parks spans beyond this support and dates to the creation of parks such as Yellowstone, Zion, Grand Canyon, and Death Valley.
Learn more about Union Pacific’s giving programs.
ABOUT UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD
Union Pacific (NYSE: UNP) delivers the goods families and businesses use every day with safe, reliable and efficient service. Operating in 23 western states, the company connects its customers and communities to the global economy. Trains are the most environmentally responsible way to move freight, helping Union Pacific protect future generations. More information about Union Pacific is available at www.up.com.
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 and connect all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture, and rich history. Find out more and become a part of the national park community at www.nationalparks.org.