One of the greatest barriers preventing our youth from experiencing the national parks around them is transportation. The goal of the National Park Foundation (NPF)’s Ticket to Ride program is to provide efficient transportation support for over 100,000 students to visit our national parks. Once in the parks, a world of learning begins – young people discover their natural, cultural, and historical heritage, participate in volunteer and service-learning activities, enjoy recreational activities, and most importantly, begin a lifelong relationship with our parks.
Said one park ranger: “Students participating in our NPF-funded Growing a Wild Brooklyn and Queens [programs] were able to come to the park for the first time to collect native plant seeds to grow in their classrooms. Without Ticket to Ride funding, these classes who had not been involved in Gateway National Recreation Area before would have found it too time-consuming and difficult to arrange for bus transportation.”
Highlights & Projects
Chamizal National Memorial
A Ticket to Ride grant enabled over 3,400 students to visit and learn about Chamizal National Memorial, one of the largest open spaces in El Paso, Texas for environmental and cultural education activities. The students participated in active, non-competitive movement games, observed stream table geological demonstrations, and participated in wildlife and flora surveys, as well as attended world class cultural events in the park’s theater, including performances from the Santa Fe Opera and the Siglo de Oro Festival.
Point Reyes National Seashore
NPF supported Seashore Youth Ambassadors Project with a Ticket to Ride grant that engaged first generation immigrant middle and high school youth and their families in recreational and educational activities at Point Reyes National Seashore. Youth explored different parts of the park to learn about conservation and shared what they learned with another group of youth.
National Mall & Memorial Parks
A Ticket to Ride grant brought students to Washington, D.C. for a visit to the National Mall and Memorial Parks, where they rode and learned about the historic Smithsonian carousel. During the visit, the youth met a woman who had been at the carousel the day it opened to everyone. Participants also completed service-learning projects, including the creation of scavenger hunts for the park with four different themes around race, gender, or ethnicity.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Funding from NPF’s Ticket to Ride program helped Cuyahoga Valley National Park bring its Healthy Food for Healthy Lifestyles program to life. Through a partnership with Strengthening Our Students and Mount Pleasant NOW, the park introduced sixth graders to concepts including the history and role of the National Park Service, the basics of participating in community-based gardening, and how to make healthy food choices.
Death Valley National Park
For years, Death Valley ROCKS, a three-day, two-night, standards-based camping experience introduced youth in urban and rural gateway communities to national parks. The Phenology ROCKS project united this with the California Phenology Project, engaging youth with the impacts of climate change on the desert landscape of the park. Thanks to a Ticket to Ride grant, the program invited youth from Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and surrounding gateway communities to participate.
Cabrillo National Monument
With the help of a Ticket to Ride grant, Cabrillo National Monument welcomed 600 students from the San Diego Unified School District as participants in their “Native Plants, Native People” educational program. Once the home of the Kumeyaay Indians, the park is rich in natural resources both on land and in the water and preserves remnants of the military’s coastal defense system.
Nature & School Science Camp
At Point Reyes National Seashore, Ticket to Ride grants funded 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 students, teachers, and chaperones to attend School Science Camp. Both programs are residential, full immersion, environmental education experiences at the park, and campers enjoy habitat exploration, hiking, canoeing, wildlife viewing, nature drawing, and more.