All posts by OAK

My name is Jackie Ostfeld. I am the co-founder and Chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids and the Policy Manager for Sierra Club's Outdoors program. I am an advocate for connecting kids with nature. My views are my own.

RELEASE: Outdoors Alliance for Kids 2018 Award Winners Announced

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 13, 2018

Contact: April Thomas, 206.321.3850,  contact@outdoorsallianceforkids.org

Outdoors Alliance for Kids 2018 Award Winners Announced

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) announced the recipients of the 2018 “OAK Awards.” Awards were offered to a bipartisan and bicameral group of lawmakers including Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Representatives Mike Turner (R-OH) and Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ). Several OAK member organizations and individuals received awards during the annual meeting of the Alliance, including Blue Star Families, youth activists Robbie Bond and Joseph Goldstein, and the Detroit Outdoors project.

The “OAK Awards” are bestowed annually on bipartisan decision-makers and OAK members for significant contributions in advancing opportunities for children, youth, and families to learn, get active, and serve in the outdoors.

“Every single one of these individuals is being recognized because of the huge difference they are making to ensure that every kid in every community has access to the outdoors,” said Jackie Ostfeld, Director of Sierra Club Outdoors and co-founder of OAK. “In the past year we have thwarted attempts to hike fees in our national parks; we have protected and extended a program that offers every fourth-grader the chance to visit those parks; and we have continued to make progress toward a world that recognizes the value of universal access to nature for our kids. Thank you to our award winners for all their hard work to make that world a reality.”

OAK Tree Award Recipients (Decision-Makers):

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN):  Sen. Alexander was the Republican lead on the Every Kid Outdoors Act, and co-sponsored the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act and the Kids to a Parks Day resolution. Sen. Alexander has also been a consistent champion for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.  

Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI): Sen. Hirono has been a consistent and vocal advocate for connecting youth to the outdoors by co-sponsoring the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act and showing leadership during hearings related to National Park Service youth programs, and has been a key ally in pushing back on Park Service fee hikes.

Representative Mike Turner (R-OH): Representative Turner was was the lead Republican and original co-sponsor of H.R. 2943, the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Grant Program Act. He has been an early and consistent supporter of Land and Water Conservation Fund and a co-sponsor of H.R. 502, which would permanently authorize the Fund. Representative Turner also co-sponsored H.R. 2584 to establish the National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund.

Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ): Representative Grijalva is a champion of public lands, diversity in the outdoors, and environmental stewardship. He is the lead sponsor on H.R. 502 to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund and was a co-sponsor of both the Every Kid Outdoors Act and the bill to establish the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps.

OAK Leaf Award Recipients (OAK Members):

Blue Star Families: Blue Star Families played an instrumental role in 2018 to help to raise the visibility of the Every Kid in a Park program with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. In partnership with the National Park Trust, Blue Star Families helped get more military kids outdoors and during a meeting with Zinke, shared over one thousand postcards from kids across the U.S. to demonstrate the widespread support for the Every Kid in a Park program.

Detroit Outdoors: The Detroit Outdoors project is making the dream of camping within the city limits of Detroit a reality for local youth. Under the leadership of Garrett Dempsey, a new coalition has emerged, including the City of Detroit, Detroit Parks and Recreation, Sierra Club, YMCA, REI, the Outdoors Empowered Network, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service and the Kresge Foundation. Through this collaboration a long defunct group camping area, Scout Hollow, has been reopened, bringing life to the Rouge City Park and creating the first ever environmental education position in the City of Detroit.

OAK Acorn Award, a new category recognizing exemplary youth leadership in the field to connect young people with our parks and public lands

Robbie Bond: Robbie received an Every Kid in a Park pass when he was 9 years old and has been on a mission to visit and protect parks and monuments across the U.S. ever since. As the founder of Kids Speak for Parks, Robbie has been a vocal advocate for the Every Kid in a Park program, sharing his experiences and the importance of parks to kids like him on social media channels followed by thousands.

Joseph Goldstein: Joseph is at the forefront of youth-led conservation advocacy. A consummate advocate, speaker, and organizer, he is a champion for preserving the Boundary Waters. When he had leukemia, after careful consideration, his Make A Wish ask was to save the Boundary Water. When Make a Wish was unable to help, Joseph turned his wish into a mission, travelling to Washington, D.C., repeatedly throughout three and half years of chemotherapy to advocate on behalf of America’s largest and most visited water wilderness. After completing treatment this February, he founded a nonprofit called Kids for the Boundary Waters to inspire a generation of young wilderness advocates who are educated about and involved in the fight to defend the pristine waters, forest and wildlife of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness against sulfide-ore copper mines proposed within its watershed.

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About the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK): OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in connecting children, youth, and families with the outdoors. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the wellness of current and future generations, the health of our planet and communities and the economy of the future depend on humans having a personal, direct, and life-long relationship with nature and the outdoors. OAK brings together 100 businesses and organizations to address the growing divide between children, youth, and the outdoors.

 

RELEASE: Senate Committee Passes Bipartisan Legislation to Get Children Outdoors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Contact: April Thomas, 206.321.3850, april.thomas@sierraclub.org


Senate Committee Passes Bipartisan Legislation to Get Children Outdoors

Washington, DC — Today, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle came together to pass the Every Kid Outdoors Act, to help get our kids outdoors. The bill, introduced by Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), would encourage fourth graders and their families to visit America’s natural, cultural, and historical treasures. The bill authorizes the Department of the Interior, U.S. Forest Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Army Corps of Engineers, to administer a pass program to provide free entry for fourth graders and their families to visit our national public lands, waters, and shores. The companion bill passed the House of Representatives and  is sponsored by Representatives Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Scott Tipton (R-CO), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), and Diana DeGette (D-CO).

In response to the passage of the Every Kid Outdoors Act, members of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids issued the following statements:

“The Every Kid Outdoors Act is a powerful way to make it easier for youth to explore our parks and public lands. Exposure to outdoor experiences helps encourage a lifelong sense of adventure and respect for the environment, something we value deeply at The North Face. Together with the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, we’re thrilled to see the legislation pass through the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, helping create opportunity for young people and their families to experience our parks and public lands.” – Arne Arens, President, The North Face

“Alliance for Childhood is enthusiastic about the opportunities the bipartisan Every Kid Outdoors Act will provide for fourth graders and their families. Together with our partners at Outdoors Alliance for Kids, we look forward to working with federal agencies to ensure all children’s healthy development, especially through outdoor, child-directed play in our natural world.” – Linda Rhoads, Executive Director, Alliance for Childhood

“National Park Trust thanks the members of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for their bipartisan support of the Every Kid Outdoors Act which will encourage all 4th grade children and their families to explore and discover our parks, public lands and waters. Only when our children experience the beauty of the great outdoors will they understand the importance of preserving and protecting these treasured places.”  – Grace Lee, Executive Director, National Park Trust

“We applaud Congress for approving the Every Kid Outdoors Act which allows fourth graders and their families to visit our parks, monuments and other public lands at no charge.  This program is part of a vital national effort to break down barriers and connect more young Americans with wild places. Our public lands belong to all of us, and this Act helps kids to visit and discover America’s unique outdoor wonders.”  – Jamie Williams, President, The Wilderness Society

“American Hiking Society applauds the bipartisan passage of the Every Kid Outdoors Act by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Providing free public lands access to fourth graders across the country will introduce the next generation to outdoor recreation and foster lifelong service to and enjoyment of our most treasured natural resource.” – Kathryn Van Waes, Executive Director, American Hiking Society  

“Every child deserves the opportunity to experience nature and the outdoors through our nation’s parks and open spaces. Thank you to Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for putting us one step closer to making this a reality through the passage of the Every Kid Outdoors Act, which we proudly support.” – Barbara Tulipane, CAE, National Recreation and Park Association president and CEO

“Whether a family outing, a school trip or a day at camp, time spent outdoors helps kids develop a sense of belonging in nature and an appreciation of the importance of preserving our lands and water. Our national parks and public lands are unrivaled as spaces where kids can connect with nature and grow their love of the outdoors. We applaud the passage of The Every Kid Outdoors Act which will enable youth-serving organizations like the Y to create powerful community partnerships focused on ensuring all kids, regardless of their circumstances, can experience the wonder of these national treasures.” – Kevin Washington, President and CEO, YMCA of the USA

“We are so pleased that the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources has approved the Every Kid Outdoors Act which will make Every Kid in a Park a permanent program. In its almost three years of existence, this program had opened the door to the natural beauty of the nation’s parks for countless children, helping them to stay physically active and healthy. With the passage of this legislation, the admirable work of this wonderful public-private partnership can continue and provide opportunities for many more kids to savor the great outdoors through our national parks and public lands.” – Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association

“The Trust for Public Land, which creates parks and protects land for people, is grateful for Congress’ support of this vital program, which provides children the opportunity to experience our national treasures, often for the first time. Efforts like the Every Kid Outdoors Act to connect children with nature are critical to ensuring that the next generation will have access to parks and green spaces within a 10-minute walk of home.” – Kathy DeCoster, Vice President and Director of Federal Affairs, The Trust for Public Land

“We enthusiastically support the Every Kid Outdoors Act and believe that connecting children to nature is critically important to their health and well-being, and to the future of our shared outdoor heritage. We commend the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for putting us one step closer to ensuring that all children have the ability to benefit from nature in our National Parks and in their everyday lives. – Sarah Milligan-Toffler, Executive Director, Children & Nature Network

“Every kid should have access to the physical, emotional and social health benefits of getting outdoors – but today’s kids spend more time indoors than any generation in history. With the passage of the Every Kid Outdoors Act, we can begin to overcome some of the structural barriers that keep kids from low-income families and communities of color from having access to outdoor play.  We applaud Congress for its bipartisan leadership on this issue.” – Jackie Ostfeld, Outdoors Director, Sierra Club and Founder and Chair, Outdoors Alliance for Kids

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About the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK): OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in connecting children, youth, and families with the outdoors. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the wellness of current and future generations, the health of our planet and communities, and the economy of the future depend on humans having a personal, direct, and life-long relationship with nature and the outdoors. OAK brings together nearly 100 businesses and organizations, representing more than 60 million individuals to address the growing divide between children, youth, and the natural world. For more information: www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org

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Release: House Passes Bipartisan Legislation to Get Children Outdoors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Contact: April Thomas, 206.321.3850, april.thomas@sierraclub.org

House Passes Bipartisan Legislation to Get Children Outdoors

Washington, DC — Today, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle came together to pass the Every Kid Outdoors Act, to help get our kids outdoors. The bill, introduced by Representatives Niki Tsongas (D-MA-03), Scott Tipton (R-CO-03), and Diana DeGette (D-CO-01), would encourage fourth graders and their families to visit America’s natural, cultural, and historical treasures. The bill authorizes the Department of the Interior, U.S. Forest Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Army Corps of Engineers, to administer a pass program to provide free entry for fourth graders and their families to visit our national public lands, waters, and shores. The companion bill in the Senate is sponsored by Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN).

In response to the passage of the Every Kid Outdoors Act, members of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids issued the following statements:

“The Every Kid Outdoors Act is a powerful way to make it easier for youth to explore our parks and public lands. Exposure to outdoor experiences helps encourage a lifelong sense of adventure and respect for the environment, something we value deeply at The North Face. Together with the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, we’re thrilled to see the legislation pass, helping create opportunity for young people and their families to experience our parks and public lands.” – Arne Arens, President, The North Face

“Alliance for Childhood is enthusiastic about the opportunities the bipartisan Every Kid Outdoors Act will provide for fourth graders and their families. Together with our partners at Outdoors Alliance for Kids, we look forward to working with federal agencies to ensure all children’s healthy development, especially through outdoor, child-directed play in our natural world.” – Linda Rhoads, Executive Director, Alliance for Childhood

“National Park Trust thanks the members of the House of Representatives for their bipartisan support of the Every Kid Outdoors Act which will encourage all 4th grade children and their families to explore and discover our parks, public lands and waters. Only when our children experience the beauty of the great outdoors will they understand the importance of preserving and protecting these treasured places.”   Grace Lee, Executive Director, National Park Trust

“We applaud Congress for approving the Every Kid Outdoors Act which allows fourth graders and their families to visit our parks, monuments and other public lands at no charge.  This program is part of a vital national effort to break down barriers and connect more young Americans with wild places. Our public lands belong to all of us, and this Act helps kids to visit and discover America’s unique outdoor wonders.”  – Jamie Williams, President, The Wilderness Society

“American Hiking Society applauds the bipartisan passage of the Every Kid Outdoors Act by the House of Representatives. Providing free public lands access to fourth graders across the country will introduce the next generation to outdoor recreation and foster lifelong service to and enjoyment of our most treasured natural resource.” – Kathryn Van Waes, Executive Director, American Hiking Society

“Every child deserves the opportunity to experience nature and the outdoors through our nation’s parks and open spaces. Thank you to the U.S. House of Representatives for putting us one step closer to making this a reality through the passage of the Every Kid Outdoors Act, which we proudly support.” – Barbara Tulipane, CAE, National Recreation and Park Association president and CEO

“Whether a family outing, a school trip or a day at camp, time spent outdoors helps kids develop a sense of belonging in nature and an appreciation of the importance of preserving our lands and water. Our national parks and public lands are unrivaled as spaces where kids can connect with nature and grow their love of the outdoors. We applaud the passage of The Every Kid Outdoors Act which will enable youth-serving organizations like the Y to create powerful community partnerships focused on ensuring all kids, regardless of their circumstances, can experience the wonder of these national treasures.” – Kevin Washington, President and CEO, YMCA of the USA

“We are so pleased that the House of Representatives has approved the Every Kid Outdoors Act which will make Every Kid in a Park a permanent program. In its almost three years of existence, this program had opened the door to the natural beauty of the nation’s parks for countless children, helping them to stay physically active and healthy. With the passage of this legislation, the admirable work of this wonderful public-private partnership can continue and provide opportunities for many more kids to savor the great outdoors through our national parks and public lands.” – Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association

“The Trust for Public Land, which creates parks and protects land for people, is grateful for Congress’ support of this vital program, which provides children the opportunity to experience our national treasures, often for the first time. Efforts like the Every Kid Outdoors Act to connect children with nature are critical to ensuring that the next generation will have access to parks and green spaces within a 10-minute walk of home.” – Kathy DeCoster, Vice President and Director of Federal Affairs, The Trust for Public Land

“Every kid should have access to the physical, emotional and social health benefits of getting outdoors – but today’s kids spend more time indoors than any generation in history. With the passage of the Every Kid in a Park Act, we can begin to overcome some of the structural barriers that keep kids from low-income families and communities of color from having access to outdoor play.  We applaud Congress for its bipartisan leadership on this issue and encourage the U.S. Senate to join their colleagues in the House to ensure this program for generations to come.” – Jackie Ostfeld, Outdoors Director for Sierra Club and Founder and Chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids.

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About the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK): OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in connecting children, youth, and families with the outdoors. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the wellness of current and future generations, the health of our planet and communities, and the economy of the future depend on humans having a personal, direct, and life-long relationship with nature and the outdoors. OAK brings together nearly 100 businesses and organizations, representing more than 60 million individuals to address the growing divide between children, youth, and the natural world. For more information: www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org

 

RELEASE: After Public Outcry, Department of the Interior Expected to Continue Program for Kids in National Parks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 8, 2018

Contact:  Ginny Cramer, 804-519-8449, contact@outdoorsallianceforkids.org

After Public Outcry, Department of the Interior Expected to Continue Program for Kids in National Parks

Washington, D.C.– Today, the Department of the Interior is expected to announce that despite news reports that the program was in danger of being cancelled, it will continue the popular, successful Every Kid in a Park program. Every Kid in a Park allows every fourth grader in the U.S. to visit their national parks. Since the program began, millions of fourth graders have downloaded their park pass voucher and visited a national park, many for the first time. The Outdoors Alliance for Kids delivered over 15,000 comments in support of the program to Secretary Ryan Zinke, including 1,000 handwritten postcards from children. More than 70 member organizations and allies to the Outdoors Alliance for Kids also called on Secretary Zinke to continue the Every Kid in a Park program in a letter sent this week.

“Thank you to the dozens of organizations who acted to protect Every Kid in a Park, and to the tens of thousands of people across the country who voiced their support, including over one thousand kids who signed postcards about the value of the program,” said Jackie Ostfeld, Director of Sierra Club Outdoors and Chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids. “Today’s decision is a victory for kids across the U.S. The Every Kid in a Park program is a low-cost and popular public-private partnership that helps boost local economies while improving children’s health and connections to nature. Millions in private funding have been leveraged to support transportation costs for children from low-income schools across the United States. Ending this program would have been a big mistake, and we’re glad to see that the Department of Interior will continue to support Every Kid in a Park.”

“Summer is the time to savor the great outdoors and there’s no better place to do that than our national parks. In its almost three years of existence, Every Kid in a Park has opened the door to the natural beauty of the nation’s parks for countless children, helping them stay physically active and healthy,” said American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown. “We are pleased that the Department of the Interior will continue the admirable work of this wonderful public-private partnership, and urge Congress to pass legislation to make the program permanent.”

“The Children & Nature Network supports efforts to ensure that all children have access to America’s public lands and outdoor heritage. Every Kid in a Park is one such initiative, and we are thrilled that it will be continued so that children and families can experience the natural places we cherish as a country.” – Sarah Milligan-Toffler, Executive Director, Children & Nature Network

“We are very glad that the popular Every Kid in a Park program will be extended to provide a new class of 4th graders the opportunity to visit our national parks. The experiences the kids have—many for the first time ever—are priceless, helping expand their horizons and connect them with our nation’s natural and cultural heritage. The Every Kid program would not have been extended without public pressure. When the Administration has proposed actions like massive entrance fee increases that would limit access to our parks, Americans have spoken up, demonstrating that ensuring the opportunity for everyone to access our national parks is an important American value. Now let’s work together to make the program permanent and guarantee that not only this year’s 4th grade class, but all 4th graders will have the same opportunity to experience America’s national parks as a rite of passage.” Paul Sanford, National Director of Recreation Policy, The Wilderness Society

“Children’s access to parks is essential to building the next generation of environmental stewards,” said Barbara Tulipane, CAE, National Recreation and Park Association president and CEO. “NRPA applauds the administration’s decision to extend the Every Kid in a Park program, as it teaches children the importance of connecting with nature and protecting our nation’s parks.”

“The Alliance for Childhood supports children’s healthy development, love of learning and joy in living, especially through child-initiated, outdoor play in nature. The Every Kid in a Park program provides equitable opportunities for fourth graders to experience active play in our natural world. Continuing this program will support life changing developmental opportunities for the children who need it most. Together with our OAK partners, we are committed to ensuring the success of this incredibly impactful model program. With bipartisan support, we look forward to working with members of Congress to pass the Every Kid Outdoors Act to ensure the future of the Every Kid in a Park program,” said Linda Rhoads, Executive Director, Alliance for Childhood.

“Of all the programs we’ve had to defend under this administration, never did we think Every Kid in a Park would be one of them. Thanks to the voices of millions of Americans represented by OAK organizations, we are relieved the program will continue to get more fourth graders and their families into America’s national parks. These visits help support businesses in gateway communities and families share invaluable park experiences that will last a lifetime.” –Theresa Pierno, President & CEO, National Parks Conservation Association

“On behalf of the thousands of under-served fourth graders across the country that we support each year, we are delighted that Secretary Zinke and the Department of the Interior will continue this program for a fourth year. Our students, families and teachers have often shared with us the immeasurable value and importance of this program that provides free access to all of our national parks. These students are our future outdoor enthusiasts and stewards of our public lands and waters,” stated Grace Lee, Executive Director, National Park Trust

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About the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK): OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in connecting children, youth and families with the outdoors. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the wellness of current and future generations, the health of our planet and communities and the economy of the future depend on humans having a personal, direct and life-long relationship with nature and the outdoors. OAK brings together nearly 100 businesses and organizations, representing more than 60 million individuals to address the growing divide between children, youth and the natural world. For more information: www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org

RELEASE: After Public Response Interior Department Reverses Course on National Parks Entrance Fee Increases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 3, 2018

Contact: Jackie Ostfeld, 202-548-6584; contact@outdoorsallianceforkids.org

After Public Response Interior Department Reverses Course on National Parks Entrance Fee Increases
Victory for Kids and Families Everywhere

Washington, DC — News reports indicate that the Department of the Interior will withdraw plans to increase fees for visitors to U.S. national parks. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke had previously proposed to increase fees to as much as $70 per vehicle at seventeen of our most iconic national parks. It appears the proposal is being reversed while the Department of the Interior pursues other options for raising revenue for our national parks. This decision comes following an overwhelming public response and increasing pressure from their representatives in Congress.

In response, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids Founder & Chair Jackie Ostfeld released the following statement:

“The Interior Department’s decision to withdraw its proposal to raise fees in our national parks is a victory for kids and families everywhere. America’s youth are spending more time indoors and less time in nature than any generation in history. Raising fees nearly 200% would have created an unnecessary barrier to entry for many young people at a time when we need to be encouraging our children to explore the natural world.

Time in nature makes us healthier, happier, and smarter. The Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) believes that all kids and families should have access, opportunities, and encouragement to visit our parks and public lands. In addition to keeping entrance fees affordable for working families, OAK supports measures to encourage participation in the outdoors, such as the Every Kid in a Park program, which offers free admission to fourth graders and their families to national public lands, waters, and shores. This and other pass programs currently support the engagement of fourth graders, seniors, people with disabilities, and active duty military service members in our parks, and help create a legacy of engagement in the outdoors that drives participation and supports local economies.

We appreciated the opportunity to weigh in on the Administration’s initial proposal, and are grateful to OAK members and the more than 100,000 individuals who made their voices heard through the open comment period. We continue to urge the Administration to work with Congress to identify adequate funding for our national parks, public lands, and their ongoing maintenance.”

In December, OAK commissioned a bipartisan national poll to better understand public opinion on the proposal to raise national park entrance fees. The poll found that nearly seven-in-ten Americans (68%) oppose the proposed fee increase, including majorities across all political and major demographic groups. It also found  that 64% of Americans would be less likely to visit a park if the fees were increased at the proposed rate of nearly 200%. That number spiked to 71% among households with incomes under $30,000. When it comes to funding national parks, Americans overwhelming believe that increasing federal funding (72%) is a better approach than increasing entrance fees (28%).

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About the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK): OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in connecting children, youth, and families with the outdoors. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the wellness of current and future generations, the health of our planet and communities, and the economy of the future depend on humans having a personal, direct, and life-long relationship with nature and the outdoors. OAK brings together nearly 100 businesses and organizations to address the growing divide between children, youth, and the outdoors.

Release: Bipartisan Poll Suggests Public Less Likely to Visit Parks with Higher Entry Fees

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 20, 2017

Contact: April Thomas, contact@outdoorsallianceforkids.org, 206.321.3850

Bipartisan Poll Suggests Public Less Likely to Visit Parks with Higher Entry Fees
Poll Results Released by Outdoors Alliance for Kids

Washington, DC– Bipartisan poll results released by the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) demonstrate that the public has major concerns with a proposal to raise entry fees at major national parks across the country. The proposed fee increase would affect some of the U.S.’s most beloved parks including Yellowstone, Shenandoah and Joshua Tree. Entrance fees would more than double, increasing to $70 per vehicle from $30. The poll found that:

  • Nearly seven-in-ten Americans (68%) oppose the proposed fee increase, including majorities across all political and major demographic groups
  • Sixty-four percent of Americans say they would be less likely to visit a national park if fees were increased
  • Among Americans with household incomes under $30,000 per year, who would be most impacted by the fee hike, 71% say they would be less likely to visit a national park if fees were increased
  • When it comes to funding national parks, Americans overwhelmingly believe that increasing federal funding is a better approach than increasing entrance fees (72% versus 28%, respectively)
  • An overwhelming 92% of Americans agree that access to national parks provides kids with valuable opportunities to be active outdoors and learn about the natural world

“Today’s young people are growing up inside, spending less time in nature than any generation in history, with profound consequences for their health and wellness,” said Jackie Ostfeld, Founder & Chair of Outdoors Alliance for Kids. “OAK believes every child and every family should have access and encouragement to get outdoors. This fee hike will reverse years of progress at the National Park Service to make our parks more inclusive and welcoming to kids and families of all backgrounds. If the Administration goes through with its proposal to more than double park entry fees, visiting places like the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone will be off the table for many kids and families.”

This week the Outdoors Alliance for Kids submitted comments from dozens of member organizations on the proposed fee hike, urging the administration to protect access to America’s national parks and public lands for all children, youth, and families by withdrawing the proposal to increase entrance fees in 17 national parks.

“By any measure, these fee increases are significant, and the American people know it,” said Paul Sanford, Vice Chair of Outdoors Alliance for Kids. “Two-thirds of poll respondents oppose the increase. Three-quarters of respondents believe the fee increase will make the parks less accessible and will harm businesses in gateway communities. Nearly two-thirds said these increases will make it less likely they will visit the parks, which strongly suggests the projected increase in revenue will not materialize. Even if it does, the backlog won’t be eliminated for 165 years. For these reasons, we urge the Administration to withdraw its proposal to increase fees.”

The poll, conducted by Hart Research Associates and Chesapeake Beach Consulting, surveyed a representative sample of 1,000 adults nationwide between December 13 and 17, 2017. The margin of error is +/-3.1 percentage points.

For a slide presentation of the results, click here.
For topline results, click here.

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About the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK): OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in connecting children, youth, and families with the outdoors. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the wellness of current and future generations, the health of our planet and communities, and the economy of the future depend on humans having a personal, direct, and life-long relationship with nature and the outdoors. OAK brings together nearly 100 businesses and organizations to address the growing divide between children, youth, and the outdoors.

Media Advisory: Telepresser – Bipartisan Poll Suggests Public Less Likely to Visit Parks with Higher Entry Fees

Media Advisory For: December 19, 2017

***MEDIA ADVISORY: WEDNESDAY TELEPRESSER***

Bipartisan Poll Suggests Public Less Likely to Visit Parks with Higher Entry Fees

Washington, DC Results of a new bipartisan poll released by the Outdoors Alliance for Kids indicate broad concerns about a proposal to dramatically raise entry fees in our national parks. A majority of Americans, no matter their party affiliation, say they want the federal government to ensure parks remain accessible to all Americans. Entry fee hikes would affect some of our most well-loved parks including Yellowstone, Shenandoah and Joshua Tree. Entrance fees would increase to $70 per vehicle, more than doubling. The telepresser will highlight key findings from the national survey, including the fact that a majority of Americans say they would be less likely to visit a national park if this proposal passed.

WHAT: Telepresser to release results and analysis of bipartisan poll on proposed National Park fee increase.

WHO: 

  • Jackie Ostfeld, Founder & Chair of Outdoors Alliance for Kids
  • Robert “Bob” Carpenter of Chesapeake Beach Consulting (R)
  • Jay Campbell of Hart Research Associates (D)
  • Paul Sanford, Vice Chair of Outdoors Alliance for Kids

WHEN: Wednesday, December 20th at 2 p.m. ET

WHERE:  By telephone, 800-791-4813; Conference ID: PARK POLLING

CONTACT: April Thomas, contact@outdoorsallianceforkids.org, 206.321.3850

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About the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK): OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in connecting children, youth, and families with the outdoors. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the wellness of current and future generations, the health of our planet and communities, and the economy of the future depend on humans having a personal, direct, and life-long relationship with nature and the outdoors. OAK brings together nearly 100 businesses and organizations to address the growing divide between children, youth, and the outdoors.

RELEASE: OAK 2017 Award Winners Announced

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, October 27, 2017

Contact: Jackie Ostfeld, 202-548-6584, jackie.ostfeld@outdoorsallianceforkids.org

OAK 2017 Award Winners Announced

lawmakers from both of sides of the aisle recognized for leadership

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) announced the recipients of the 2017 “OAK Awards.” A bipartisan and bicameral group of lawmakers including Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Representative Niki Tsongas (D-MA-3), and Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21), and several OAK members received awards during the annual meeting of the Alliance.

The “OAK Awards” are bestowed annually on a bipartisan and bicameral cohort of decision-makers and OAK members for significant contributions in advancing opportunities for children, youth, and families to learn, get active, and serve in the outdoors.

OAK Tree Award Recipients (Decision-Makers):

Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM): recognized for leadership in connecting children and youth with our parks and public lands, and advancement of the Every Kid Outdoors Act.

“Our national parks and public lands are outdoor classrooms with endless opportunities to learn and make memories,” said Senator Heinrich. “Connecting kids to the outdoors can inspire a lifelong connection to conservation, while reaping all of the health benefits that go along with an active lifestyle. I am grateful for the support and work of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids that helps kids and their families access the rich natural and cultural history on display in our parks, forests, and monuments.”

Senator John McCain (R-AZ): recognized for leadership in supporting career pathway programs for youth and veterans in conservation, and advancement of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act.

Representative Niki Tsongas (D-MA-3): recognized for leadership in connecting children and youth with our parks and public lands, and advancement of the Every Kid Outdoors Act.

“Thank you to OAK for this award but even more so for your members’ dedicated efforts to encourage kids and families to get outside and enjoy the beautiful spaces that play such an important role in our communities,” said Congresswoman Tsongas. “Together, we must continue to inspire a new and more diverse generation to embrace a healthy, active lifestyle, learn about our country’s natural and historic treasures, and fall in love with our public lands and the outdoors.”

Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21): recognized for leadership in connecting children and youth with our parks and public lands, and advancement of the Every Kid Outdoors Act.

“I thank the Outdoors Alliance for Kids for this award, but also for their tireless efforts on behalf of our nation’s children,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “The Every Kid Outdoors Act will encourage our nation’s children to see our beautiful treasures and monuments, learning about our rich national heritage in the process. This will help cultivate their appreciation for protecting our environment and public lands. As the home of the Adirondacks, in my district we know how critical it is to get our children outdoors exploring our parks, and I am pleased to work in a bipartisan fashion with my colleagues on this issue.”

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Members of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids present Congresswoman Niki Tsongas with the OAK Tree Award.

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Members of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids present Congresswoman Elise Stefanik with the OAK Tree Award.

OAK Leaf Award Recipients (OAK Members):

Kyle Stewart, Alliance of New York State YMCAs: recognized for work to pass Assembly Bill 735 into law to develop a long-term strategy to encourage and promote outdoor environmental education and recreational opportunities in New York State.  

Upon receiving the award, Kyle Stewart, Executive Director of the Alliance of New York State YMCAs said, the Alliance of New York State YMCAs is honored to receive the OAK Leaf Award and appreciates this recognition for our work to achieve legislation that encourages and promotes outdoor education and recreational opportunities. We are proud to work with such an esteemed alliance that strives for the health and well-being of our kids.”

Casey Andrews, Seattle Every Kid in a Park Collaborative: recognized for work to advance the Every Kid in a Park program across Seattle. The “Collaborative,” supported by OAK members Islandwood, Seattle YMCA, NatureBridge, and Washington Trails Association, along with the National Park Service, National Forest Service, Seward Park Audubon, Seattle Parks and Recreation and Steven’s Pass Ski Resort work together to increase engagement in the outdoors for Seattle youth, including through the federal Every Kid in a Park program which provides 4th graders and their families with encouragement and a free access pass to national parks and public lands.

Upon receiving the award, Casey Andrews of the Seattle EKIP Collaborative said, “It is an honor to receive the Leaf Award on behalf of the Seattle Every Kid in a Park Collaborative. The Seattle EKIP Collaborative is working together to decrease barriers and increase engagement for Seattle youth with multiple outdoor engagement opportunities, including the 4th grader federal lands pass. We do this to connect youth with their community parks and federal lands to foster the next generation of environmental stewards. I would like to thank OAK for their continued work to engage youth and families across the country. It is a privilege to be a member of such a committed and accomplished alliance.”

Paul Sanford, The Wilderness Society: recognized for his leadership in advancing OAK’s advocacy efforts and building strong federal partnerships for the Alliance in service of getting more kids outdoors on federal lands and waters.

Upon receiving the award, Paul Sanford, National Director of Recreation Policy at The Wilderness Society, and OAK Vice Chair said, “The Wilderness Society is honored to be recognized by the members of OAK for our contributions to the work of the Alliance. We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with so many visionary leaders in building a movement to get more kids outside.”

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From left to right: Kyle Stewart, Alliance of New York State YMCAs; Casey Andrews, Seattle Every Kid in a Park Collaborative; and Paul Sanford, The Wilderness Society: OAK Leaf Award Recipients 2017.

The awards were announced during OAK Week, the annual meeting of the alliance. The OAK Awards program was established in 2016.

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About the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK): OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in connecting children, youth, and families with the outdoors. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the wellness of current and future generations, the health of our planet and communities and the economy of the future depend on humans having a personal, direct, and life-long relationship with nature and the outdoors. OAK brings together nearly 100 businesses and organizations to address the growing divide between children, youth, and the outdoors.

Pisces Foundation: Investments in People and Nature Thriving Together

– Interview with Jason Morris, Pisces Foundation, by Jackie Ostfeld, Outdoors Alliance for Kids 

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The Pisces Foundation is working to advance strategic solutions to natural resource challenges and prepare the next generation by supporting environmental education. Pisces believes if we act now and boldly, we can quickly accelerate to a world where people and nature thrive together. Pisces mainstreams powerful new solutions to support innovators who know what it takes and are doing what’s necessary to have clean and abundant water, a safe climate, and kids with the environmental know-how to create a sustainable world.

I asked Jason Morris, Environmental Education Senior Program Officer at the Pisces Foundation, to share his thoughts on where the movement to connect kids with the outdoors is heading. The Pisces Foundation is a new supporter of OAK and we’re honored by their commitment to the field. Enjoy the interview here.


Jason, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your own interest in environmental education. Why is this field important to you personally?

For me, like many in the environmental education field, nature has shaped who I am and what I do.

When I was 12 years old, I lived for the summer. I would fish in the canal by my house, care for the animals on my family’s farm, and explore the wonders of the natural world as often as I could. I remember one of my first camping trips into Rocky Mountain National Park. It was right after the first snowfall of the year. My family stumbled upon a huge meadow, where it seemed like every elk in the entire world had gathered. I was mesmerized. I stood there and stared as they grazed and mingled. For a moment, I felt like part of the herd. I was completely struck by an overwhelming feeling—awe. This story, among thousands of other experiences I’ve had in nature throughout my life, stands out to me. I share this story because feeling awe, even for a moment, can truly shake the foundation of what we believe.

As a kid, I yearned to be in nature as often as possible. Growing up, I always hoped to experience the natural world, at home, at work, and at play. I have made it my life’s work to ensure that more people, at all ages, get to experience the benefits of nature—and not just in the summer!

Tell us about the hopes and dreams the Pisces Foundation has for environmental education?

At Pisces Foundation, we believe that when kids gain the environmental know-how they need to thrive in a rapidly changing world, we’ll see smarter decisions, stronger communities, and daily actions that improve their well-being and our planet. Environmental education is a proven way to get kids more engaged in learning and active and healthy outdoors. We see that more and more schools, states, and communities are tapping into the many benefits that come with environmental education and making it a part of every child’s experience. Our hope is that every child receives the benefits of environmental education. Environmental education is not a one-time event. It’s a series of life experiences that allow children to grow into adults who embrace responsible behaviors in order to make smarter decisions about the world. Research has shown that the benefits of environmental education can be immediate and long-lasting.

With so many pressing environmental challenges, like climate change, why is it also important for environmental organizations and the philanthropy community to invest in environmental education and getting kids outdoors?

I’m glad you asked this question, because it’s important to think of environmental education as an immediate investment as well as an investment in our future. Environmental education leads to gains in conservation, education, health and wellness, social justice, and youth development. Many of these benefits improve our communities and our planet today. And, kids who experience environmental education can grow up to be responsible, well-prepared citizens, ready to make the choices and decisions necessary to solve the pressing environmental challenges of tomorrow. We know that the sooner we act, the sooner we see the benefits. Solving environmental challenges and investing in environmental education are not an “either-or” division. They are important “both/and” investments that mutually reinforce one another. Both are integral components to get to the point where people and nature can thrive together.

On behalf of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, I cannot thank you and the Pisces Foundation enough for investing in our mission to advocate for equitable and readily available opportunities for children, youth and families to connect with the outdoors. As we enter our first year of collaboration with Pisces, do you have any advice for OAK and our alliance member organizations on how we can work together to expand and improve not just access, but equity in access, to the outdoors and outdoor learning opportunities for children and youth?

Research has shown that environmental learning levels the playing field, across gender and ethnicity. We know that outdoor experiences improve children’s self-esteem, leadership, and character. We know that unstructured play outdoors improves mental and physical health. We know that environmental learning sticks with kids more than traditional learning, that it stokes interest in science, and that it sparks the curiosity that makes kids better learners. We know all of this, yet the average American child spends 4 to 7 minutes a day in unstructured play outdoors, and over 7 hours a day in front of a screen.

What we need is to connect children with nature. Not just some children—all children. Every child not only deserves access to nature, every child requires it. In order to deliver this to every child, we can no longer imagine nature only in the iconic treasured landscapes. To give every child the opportunity to form a lasting connection with nature, we must find nature nearby. We have to re-imagine what and where nature is. Through environmental education, we can give all kids the opportunity to experience the world that left me awe-struck as a 12-year-old. Whether it’s in a meadow watching a herd of elk, or in a city park staring up at a big oak tree, or in their own backyard discovering the joy of nearby nature, environmental education delivers.

How did you get outdoors with your family this summer?

My wife, daughter, and I spent an amazing week along the Metolius River in eastern Oregon. Surrounded by millions of acres of wilderness, we wandered along the banks of the river, canoed across a stunning mountain lake, and biked through the sun-drenched massive pine forest. A perfect opportunity to boost our spirit and nourish our passion for wild places.

RELEASE: The Every Kid in a Park Program Turns Three

For Immediate Release

September 6, 2017

Contact: Jackie Ostfeld, 202-548-6584; contact@outdoorsallianceforkids.org

 

The Every Kid in a Park Program Turns Three

4th graders encouraged to get outdoors; legislation introduced to make program permanent

Washington, D.C.–The third year of the Every Kid in a Park program kicks off this month with the launch of the 2017-18 school year. Through public-private partnerships, the program provides fourth graders and their families with free entry to America’s national public lands, waters, and shores. Children, parents and guardians, and educators can visit www.everykidinapark.gov to learn more and download the new pass.

Earlier this summer, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced the Every Kid Outdoors Act to ensure the program lives on for years to come.

In response, Jackie Ostfeld, Chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, issued the following statement:

“The Every Kid in a Park program is inspiring a new generation to get out and explore America’s great outdoors. At a time when children and youth are increasingly sedentary and disconnected from nature, programs like Every Kid provide entry points for our youth to play, get active, and learn about the outdoors. The program is a low-cost and popular public-private partnership that helps boost local economies while improving our children’s health and connections to nature. In the program’s first year, more than two million fourth graders downloaded the Every Kid pass. Over the first two years, nearly $5 million in private funding has been leveraged to support transportation costs for children from low-income schools across America.

“The Outdoors Alliance for Kids praises the National Park Service, US Forest Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other federal agencies for continuing the program for the 2017-18 school year. To ensure the Every Kid in a Park program continues to encourage and support fourth graders to get outdoors beyond the current school year, OAK seeks passage of the bipartisan and bicameral Every Kid Outdoors Act to formally establish the program for all fourth graders, present and future.”

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About the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK): OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in connecting children, youth and families with the outdoors. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the wellness of current and future generations, the health of our planet and communities and the economy of the future depend on humans having a personal, direct and life-long relationship with nature and the outdoors. OAK brings together nearly 100 businesses and organizations to address the growing divide between children, youth and the outdoors.

EKIP Postcards
Every Kid in a Park Alumni explain why they love the program
Photo Credit: National Park Trust