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More than 200,000 4th Graders to Visit National Parks Thanks to @GoParks’ $2 Million-Plus Funding


WASHINGTON – More than 200,000 fourth graders will have the opportunity to visit national parks in the 2017-2018 school year, thanks to 130 grants from the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks. These grants are part of the Foundation’s Open OutDoors for Kids program and support Every Kid in a Park.

The grants announced today total more than $2 million and provide funding to remove barriers to accessing national parks, with a special focus on underserved communities. This strategic funding will help provide comprehensive access to natural, cultural, and historical parks across the country.

“I can still remember the excitement of exploring my first national park as a kid and it made me want to discover more,” said National Park Foundation President Will Shafroth. “I’m thrilled that our National Park Foundation grants make it possible for hundreds of thousands of kids to experience the wonder of parks for the first time, sparking a lifelong love for national parks.”

Collaborations between schools, teachers, youth groups, philanthropic and other partner organizations make each grantee’s project possible. Examples include:

Cumberland Island National Seashore (Georgia)
Local students will explore the many ecosystems on the island and participate in hands-on activities that directly connect to what they are learning in the classroom. They will enjoy a 45-minute ferry ride along the St. Marys River, where dolphins, manatees and many types of birds are a common sight. Once the ferry docks, they’ll take part in a guided walk through the tangled live oak forest. During their time at the park, they will observe the many plants and animals that live there, learn about animal adaptations, create a food web, and participate in several fun activities on the beach.

Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument (Idaho)
Students will learn about the importance of fossils to understanding history and science and then go out into the field as paleontologists. The park will offer ‘mock’ fossil excavation programs to actively engage youth in scientific research methods of investigation, analysis, and recording findings. Not only will this program introduce students to ecology, geology, history, and preservation, it also increases their awareness about careers in science as they learn alongside scientists.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (Indiana)
Students from the Chicago area will experience and learn about the beauty and ecology of winter through a snowshoeing program. From animal and plant adaptations to wintry weather, students will learn about the ways animals interact with and often use the frozen environment to their benefit. They will also explore how humans have developed methods to tolerate cold conditions, how the dunes are created, the biodiversity of the park, wetlands and water quality, and the history of the park’s cultural sites.

Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail (Missouri section)
Using the cottonwood forests and the longest river in North America as their laboratory, the students will investigate the trees that live along the river through the park’s Missouri River Days program. Students will work side by side with fish biologists, analyze the data, research, and sketches of Lewis and Clark, and explore the channelization of the river by boat through stories and historical photographs.

Lowell National Historical Park (Massachusetts)
The park’s historic structures serve as a learning laboratory in which students investigate the problems solved and choices made by Lowell's early engineers. At the Moody Street Feeder Gatehouse, students will search for solutions to controlling the water flow at the confluence of Lowell's two major canals, learning about how engineers used mechanical advantage to control the water. At the park's "River Transformed" exhibit in the historic Suffolk Mill, students will use their knowledge of materials properties to study the turbine, flywheel, power loom, and the mill building to assess the choices engineers made to accomplish certain tasks.

New River Gorge National River (West Virginia)
This project will provide a place-based residential experience to 4th graders in Summers County, WV, a gateway community to New River Gorge National River, Bluestone National Scenic River, and Gauley River National Recreation Area. Over a period of three weeks, students and teacher/chaperones will spend four nights on a small island in the New River. During the camp, students will explore nature through hands-on experiences like dissecting owl pellets, collecting macroinvertebrates from streams, and planting trees during a service- learning project.

Saguaro National Park (Arizona)
Through several hands-on activities, students will learn how the indigenous Hohokam communities lived a thousand years ago and the desert resources needed to survive. Students will discover how petroglyphs are used for communication, the types of shelters used in desert extremes, and how to obtain food as hunter-gatherer-farmers.

For the full list of grantees and their projects, click here.

As part of these grants, the National Park Foundation is also awarding funding for the second year of the Every Kid in a Park Focus Grant program. Beyond providing field trip grants, this program focuses on raising local community awareness about the importance of connecting kids to the outdoors. Cities and parks participating in the 2017-2018 Every Kid in a Park Focus Grant program are:

  • Cleveland, OH: Cuyahoga Valley National Park and James A. Garfield National Historic Site
  • Baltimore, MD: Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine; and Hampton National Historic Site
  • Houston, TX: Big Thicket National Preserve
  • Los Angeles, CA: Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
  • Miami, FL: Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park
  • San Juan, P.R.: San Juan National Historic Site
  • Seattle, WA: Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
  • St. Louis, MO: Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and Ulysses S Grant National Historic Site
  • St. Paul, MN: Mississippi National River and Recreation Area

The National Park Service and the National Park Foundation will continue to identify additional cities and park locations to participate in this program based on available funding.

The National Park Foundation wishes to thank Annenberg Foundation; The Batchelor Foundation, Inc.; Disney; Ernesto M. Vasquez, AIA, NCARB; George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation; The Grainger Foundation; Margaret A. Cargill Foundation Fund; Phillip R. Cox; Sally and Warren Jewell; Stephen L. Hightower; Wellsprings Family Foundation; and Yawkey Foundation; for their generous support of Open OutDoors for Kids and Every Kid in a Park field trip grants.

Individuals, foundations, and corporations can click here to contribute to the National Park Foundation’s efforts to connect kids to national parks.

To participate in the Every Kid in a Park program, fourth graders nationwide can visit and complete a fun educational activity in order to obtain and print their pass.

The Every Kid in a Park program is an interagency effort between the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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 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