Every Kid in a Park Goes to Texas
The Every Kid in a Park (EKIP) initiative strives to get every fourth grader from across the country into a national park throughout the 2016-2017 school year. The National Park Foundation (NPF) supports this great program by providing transportation funding to bring the students to parks. With support from numerous partners, nearly half a million fourth graders will have had the opportunity to visit national parks and public lands between 2015 and the end of this school year!
One of the park’s receiving an EKIP grant is Chamizal National Memorial. The park is engaging fourth graders from Title I schools in the El Paso area to participate in their “Chamizal Camping Academy: Get Out of the City and Hike!” program. The park’s education staff partnered with the El Paso Independent School District (EPISD) for this program.
Sixty-five percent of El Paso’s students are deemed economically disadvantaged, and all elementary schools are designated as Title I. Many of the schools participating in this program have had budget cuts which means that field trips outside of school don’t happen unless they are close enough to walk or transportation is funded through another source.
Through the support of NPF’s transportation grants, so far this year, a total of 744 fourth-grade students from 14 elementary schools have participated in the program and the park has plans to continue the program to reach even more 4th graders in 2016!
As part of EKIP’s three prong approach, park rangers visited each school before the field trips to present an interactive program highlighting the National Park Service and its 100th birthday. Students also received their Every Kid in a Park pass that allows them and their families free admission to National Parks. During the Chamizal Camping Academy, fourth graders rotated through various stations designed to teach hiking and camping skills. Students learned how to make a bedroll (i.e. sleeping bag), create different kinds of shelter with a tarp, and tie basic knots to secure their camping gear.
Kids also had the opportunity to participate in a ranger-led hike at Guadalupe Mountains National Park or other federal sites near the park. During the hike, they stopped along the trail to learn about the plants, animals, water, and history of the park. Rangers taught Leave No Trace principles, reminding students to leave natural objects as they find them. After the field trip, park staff visited classrooms again to share hiking stories, review what they learned on the field trip, and to encourage students to use their EKIP pass with their families to visit national parks.
Parks are a great resource for getting our kids outdoors to learn and experience the wonders of nature. Help us support programs that get kids outdoors!