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Every Kid in a Park: Youth Blog Series: Post #4 Natalia (Bilingual)

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Every Kid in a Park – Youth Blog Series, Post #4
Interview with Natalia A., former Every Kid in a Park pass user, in English and Spanish

Natalia A. just finished 5th grade at Lucy V. Barnsley Elementary School in Maryland. She participated in the Every Kid in a Program in its first year and was able to visit Shenandoah National Park for the first time last summer. Natalia’s family is originally from Ecuador.

 

Can you introduce yourself?

Natalia: Hi I’m Natalia, I’m 11 and I’m in the 5th grade. And I participated in the Every Kid in a Park program.

How did you get your Every Kid in a Park pass?

Natalia: I went online on the Every Kid in a Park website, took the activity/course and printed the pass.

What park did you visit and who did you go with?

Natalia: I visited to the Shenandoah National Park with my mom, dad, and grandma.

Can you describe the park?

Natalia: It has really pretty views of Luray, Virginia and you get see a lot of wildlife like bears and other animals. I saw a black bear!

What did you at Shenandoah National Park?

Natalia: We went on one of the hiking trails and we stopped at one of the places where you drive to the views to take pictures there.

What was your happiest memory at the park?

Natalia: Getting to go on the hike and look at the mini waterfalls. And all the nature and trees.

Was this your first time at Shenandoah National Park?

Natalia: Yeah, it was my first time!

Would you like to visit Shenandoah again or visit more parks?

Natalia: Yeah, I think it really enhances our point of view on how we see not just a local park but how it could be much more than that.

What’s your favorite activity to do outside?

Natalia: I think hike and take pictures. I like to look at things and sometimes research them afterwards to see what it is.

Why do you like to go to parks?

Natalia: We get to explore things and see things we’ve never seen before. We get to learn about not only the park but its history.

Are you happy you received your Every Kid in a Park pass?

Natalia: Yes. I think it opens up a lot of possibilities where you can explore different things that you can’t look out your window and see everyday.

 

Natalia will now be going to a magnet middle school specializing in a Mathematics, Science, Computer Science Program. She is enjoying her summer on the local swim team and crafting projects of all sorts. She went back to visit Shenandoah National Park during National Park Week.


Natalia A. recién acabo el quinto grado en la escuela de Lucy V. Barnsley Elementary en el estado de Maryland. Natalia participó en el programa “Todos los niños en un parque” (o “Every Kid in a Park”) durante el primer año y fue con su familia a visitar al Parque Nacional de Shenandoah en Virginia. La familia de Natalia son inmigrantes de Ecuador.

 

Te puedes introducir porfavor?

Hola me llamo Natalia, tengo 11 años, estoy en quinto grado y participe en el programa EKIP.

Cómo recibiste tu pase del programa Every Kid in a Park?

Fui al website y complete la actividades.

A donde fuiste con tu pase y con quien?

Me fui al parque nacional de Shenandoah con mi papa, mama, y mi abuela.

Que viste en el parque?

Vi a los animales, árboles, y había cascadas de agua.

Que hiciste en el parque?

Camine en uno de los caminos del parque y paramos a ver las vistas en donde puedes llegar manejando para ver a Virginia.

Cual es tu memoria más positiva del parque?

Poder ver a los animales y la naturaleza.

Era tu primera vez visitando al parque de Shenandoah?

Si, era mi primera vez visitando Shenandoah.

Te gustaría regresar a Shenandoah o visitar más parques?

Si me gustaria visitar a otros parques o a Shenandoah. Porque podemos ver algo más de lo que vemos cada día de nuestra ventana y poder aprender de cosas que no hemos conocido antes.

Estas feliz que recibiste tu pase de Every Kid in a Park?

Si estoy feliz porque pude aprender de otras cosas y pude ir a explorar.

 

Natalia continuará a una escuela especializada en cursos de matemáticas, ciencia, y computación el próximo año. Está pasando su verano en el equipo de natación y completando proyectos manuales. Regreso al parque nacional de Shenandoah durante la semana de parques nacionales.

Sobre el programa de Every Kid in a Park (o “Todos Los Niños en un Parque”):

Como parte del compromiso para proteger los espacios naturales de nuestra nación y garantizar que cada estadounidense tiene la oportunidad de visitarlos y disfrutarlos, el programa Todos los niños en un parque permite a todos los escolares de cuarto grado visitar la página www.everykidinapark.gov y obtener ahí un pase de acceso gratuito para ellos y sus familias a más de 2000 sitios terrestres y acuáticos a cargo del gobierno federal en todo el país durante todo un año.

Todos los niños en un parque es un esfuerzo de agencias gubernamentales con el apoyo del Departamento de Interior (que incluye el Servicio de Parques Nacionales, la Oficina de Administración de Tierras, la Oficina de Recuperación de Tierras, y el Servicio de Pesca y Fauna Silvestre), el Cuerpo de Ingenieros del Ejército, el Servicio Forestal y la Administración Nacional Oceánica y Atmosférica.

Every Kid in a Park: Youth Blog Series Post #3 with the National Military Family Association

 

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Every Kid in a Park: Youth Blog Series Post #3
Guest Blog with Tiaira D. from the National Military Family Association

Tiaira D. is a young lady from North Carolina who visited a national park for the first time through National Military Family Association (NMFA) family program. At age 18, she is far from a fourth grader, but her family trip outdoors is similar of many fourth graders who experience parks for the first time using their Every Kid in a Park pass. Even more special, these trips for military families help kids connect with their parents, away from the stress and challenges of deployment. With opportunities like Operation Purple and Every Kid in a Park, families can embrace the outdoors in ways they have never imagined and hope to return to see more. Read about the trip Taira enjoyed with her family this past July.

 

What’s your name, age, and where are you from?

Tiaira: Tiaira D., age 18, from Greensboro, North Carolina

Was this your first time visiting Grand Teton National Park?

Tiaira: Yes.

Who did you do Operation Purple with?

Tiaira: I did Operation Purple with my Mom, Dad, and two sisters.

If you had the opportunity, would you have liked to visit a national park sooner? If so, why?

Tiaira: Yes, I would have loved to have visited a national park sooner just for the different perspective I got from being at one park. Being outdoors walking the trails and observing everything around me was the best, it was all too much to take in at once but I loved it.

Can you describe the park and what you saw?

Tiaira: The park was very beautiful, quiet, and clean. Walking through the trails in the park, and being able to learn about the different pine trees, flowers and rocks we saw was very interesting. I saw a very strong waterfall that had a bridge over it so while walking across on parts of it you could feel some of the water splash up. Not too far from this was a stream that went throughout part of the trail which was very pretty and cold.

What activities did you do at the park?

Tiaira: An activity we did at the park was given to us by our instructors. My family of 5 was split into 2 groups: a group of 2 and a group of 3. Each of us throughout the group had a chance at being blindfolded and guided to a tree of the unblinded person/s choice. The person blindfolded could use their five senses and do whatever was necessary for them. Once the person blindfolded felt comfortable enough we guided them back to where they started, unblindfolded them, and let them find the tree they thought they were guided too. That person after finding out if their guess was right or not being given a booklet with different trees had to find the name of it, and read the information given to their self and the group.

Another activity we did was picking a rock of our choice and walking with it, observing it until we reached a bridge with the lake under. Once there we talked about our rock and threw it into the water whenever we felt we were ready.

Where do your parents work?

Tiaira: My mom is Active Duty Military, ARMY. My dad is a truck driver.

So, were you excited to be with your family during this retreat? Why?

Tiaira: Yes, I was very excited, and ready to experience everything. In fact, I didn’t think we would have got to do and see as much as we did. The trip there, and while there was so much fun. Being able experience something this amazing as being in Wyoming was too much to take in.  Seeing the mountains that still had snow, canoeing, trail walking, trail making, and everything else we got to do was overall great! We all got to be together for the week and experience it all and more. Working together and hearing one another’s point on whatever it was about was always something to look forward to. More knowledge! Also having more time to spend as a family, being happy and not so stressed while on the trip was also exciting so I enjoyed every minute.

What is your happiest memory from visiting the Grand Teton National Park?

Tiaira: Being able to sit by the lake with the mountains behind us, with my family and our instructors while eating lunch together.

Would you like to go back or visit more parks soon? Why?

Tiaira: Yes, visiting again or going to other parks is something I may consider. If I do go to a park then I will most likely do a good mile run, and afterwards a good walk to see what it all must offer. I consider going back, and or visiting more parks soon because of the different perspective I’ve gotten from visiting the Grand Teton National Park. The different trees, rocks, the mountains, the plants and everything else that may be there, or at any park has a story as to how it may have formed, been brought or put there.

What is your favorite thing to do outdoors in general?

Tiaira: My favorite thing to do outdoors is swimming.

What advice would you give a future student who is going on a family retreat to a national park?

Tiaira: My advice to a future student who’s going on a family retreat to a national park would be to learn as much as you can while you’re there by yourself and with your family. Asking lots of questions, listening, observing, and learning about the different trees, and whatever else that may interest you can give you a whole different perspective on nature so I highly recommend it. Spending time with your family meaning talking about what you see/seen, what you’ve learned or want to learn is also something that may help you all understand, or even bring you closer since it’s a common interest.

Why do you think it’s important it’s important for kids like you to spend time outdoors with their families?

Tiaira: Spending time outdoors rather than being inside can bring a whole different part of your family out. There are so many activities or things in general that could bring you together, even if it’s just cleaning a car or mowing the lawn. Finding something, anything that your family may enjoy doing outside to get fresh air, and be together is not only important but fun!

 

Tiaira has just graduated high school with the Class of 2017 and is preparing to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test so she can follow in her mom’s footsteps to join the U.S. Army.

Similar to the Every Kid in a Park pass, active military members can also receive a free annual park pass for themselves and their families to enjoy. The Free Annual U.S. Military pass is for current U.S. military members and dependents in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard as well as Reserve and National Guard members.

The National Military Family Association is the leading nonprofit dedicated to serving the families who stand behind the uniform. Since 1969, NMFA has worked to strengthen and protect millions of families through its advocacy and programs. They provide spouse scholarships, camps for military kids, and retreats for families reconnecting after deployment and for the families of the wounded, ill, or injured. NMFA serves the families of the currently serving, veteran, retired, wounded or fallen members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Commissioned Corps of the USPHS and NOAA. To get involved or to learn more, visit www.MilitaryFamily.org.

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Photos provided National Military Family Association

EVERY KID IN A PARK – YOUTH BLOG SERIES: POST #2

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Every Kid in a Park – Youth Blog Series, Post #2
Interview with Evie E. & Louise R., former Every Kid in a Park pass users

Evie E. and Louise R. are both rising sixth-graders at Creative Minds International Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. They were both invited to speak at OAK’s Congressional Lunch Briefing on July 11, 2017 to talk about their experiences outdoors. Before the event, they were interviewed by Isabel Argoti, OAK/NPS Community Assistance Fellow, and Katie Brantley, Sierra Club Digital Storytelling Fellow. Evie and Louise’s speeches given during the briefing were recorded live.


What’s your name, age, and grade?

Evie: I’m Evie and I’m 11 going into the sixth grade.

Louise: And I’m Louise, also 11 and also going into the sixth grade.

What do you love about the outdoors and what do you like to do outside?

Evie: Outdoors is peaceful and relaxing, and you can think about stuff. And it helps things grow, which it also helps us grow. Like vegetables.

Louise: I like the feeling of being independent outdoors, where you can just free-roam and explore and discover new plants and insects and animals.

Where did you get your Every Kid in a Park pass?

Louise: We went on a school trip and they handed them out. It was the US Arboretum.

Evie: There was also another school there.

Which parks have you been to?

Evie: Assateague Island National Seashore, Rock Creek Park, and Prince William Forest Park.

Louise: C&O Canal National Historical Park, National Mall, Rock Creek Park which is really close to my house. And Prince William Forest Park.

What did you like to do there? What was your favorite part about your visit?

Evie: At Prince William, we actually went camping there with our class in cabins. And at Rock Creek, I like to go hiking.

Louise: Me, too. Sometimes with my family, we’ll go on a family hike because it’s so close to our house. And sometimes we’ll walk along the C&O Canal and hike along the rocks.

What advice do you have for a future fourth grader who is about to receive their Every Kid in a Park pass?  

Louise: Try to get your parents to have the family travel somewhere far. Also let the pass be a reminder to you to get outdoors even if it’s not a huge national park.

Evie: I have two sisters–one of them had the pass last year and the other is getting the pass this year and so I think my advice would be to look through the book or website when you first get the pass. Try to choose a park that is the farthest away from you so you can go on a long road trip and so you can find stuff that wouldn’t be in a park nearer to you, so you can learn new stuff and discover new, fun, exciting things.

 

The school trips in which Evie and Louise received their passes were sponsored field trips by the National Park Trust. The National Park Trust, a 501(c)(3) non profit, is dedicated to preserving parks today and creating park stewards for tomorrow, and is an incredible supporter of the Every Kid in a Park program. Since 2009,​ the Buddy Bison School Program and national Kids to Parks Day have engaged 3,000,000 students across the country with our nation’s parks, public lands and waters (ParkTrust.org).

 

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EKIP Postcards

This is the second in a series of blogs highlighting students who have used, or are gearing up to use, their Every Kid in a Park pass.

Every Kid Outdoors Twitter Party Roundup

On Friday, July 14th, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids held a Twitter Party to discuss the Every Kid Outdoors Act. The legislation was introduced this week with bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress. Here’s a roundup of our Twitter Party with OAK members and the Congressional sponsors of the bill.

The Every Kid Outdoors Act sponsors have this to say…

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And just why is it so important to get kids outdoors?

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What is the Every Kid Outdoors Act?

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What are some barriers kids face when it comes to connecting with the outdoors?

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How are OAK members stepping up to support the program?

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How does time outdoors impact the health of children?

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How does outdoor time improve learning?

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And there are economic impacts, too, right?

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How can you help get kids outdoors?

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Bonus tweets!

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Every Kid in a Park – Youth Blog Series: Post #1

July 14, 2017

 

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Every Kid in a Park – Youth Blog Series, Post #1
Guest blog post by Ben T., rising 4th grader, Arlington, VA

Ben T. is a rising 4th grader at Ashlawn Elementary in Arlington, Virginia. This is the first in a series of blogs highlighting students who have used, or gearing up to use, their Every Kid in a Park pass. Ben was interviewed by Isabel Argoti, Every Kid in a Park Community Assistance Fellow with OAK and the National Park Service.


 

Did you know you could get a special park pass as a 4th grader that gives you free entrance to parks for you and your family? How does that make you feel?

Ben: “Yes, I read about it in a National Geographic Kids article. It makes me feel awesome because I like to see new places and get outdoors. I also want to visit some of our famous National Parks.”  

What parks have you already visited?

Ben: “I haven’t yet visited a National Park, but I have seen Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly in Arizona, and I live very close to the National Mall so I’ve been there. I’ve also visited Frederick Douglass’s home in DC, which was really cool.”

What is your happiest memory in visiting these sites?

Ben: “I have two…  I was Frederick Douglass for my 3rd grade “wax museum” project and visiting his home really made it all come to life for me. The other was taking a Navajo-guided tour of Canyon de Chelly.  I learned a lot, but also got to ride in a jeep through streams and mud!”

Are there other places outdoors you’d like to visit with your Every Kid in a Park pass? Are you excited to receive an Every Kid in a Park pass next school year?

Ben: “I hope to visit Shenandoah National Park, as well as places not too far away like Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia. But, I’d REALLY like to see someplace like Yellowstone or Denali! I’m looking forward to having my own park pass, yes!”

What are your favorite activities outdoors?

Ben: “Hiking, camping, exploring… but I also love to play sports, too. I just enjoy being outside with my friends.”

Do you plan on telling your friends and family about the pass? If so, who?

Ben: “Yes… I’ve already told my Mom and Dad, and a few of my school friends know about it, too. I’ll be sure to tell my teacher about it as soon as school starts up again. But, for now, I’m enjoying my summer break.”

 

OAK is seeking testimonials from children, parents, caregivers and teachers to share the impact of the Every Kid in a Park program. If your organization is planning an Every Kid in a Park event (or has already completed one), please help share the impact of the outdoor experience by encouraging youth participants to fill out the “I love my Every Kid in a Park pass because…” postcard and send it to OAK!

 

Nevada’s new law brings more kids outdoors

Guest blog post by Suparna Dutta, Nearby Nature intern, Sierra Club

Nevada fifth-graders! Tie up your shoe laces, put on your adventure hats, and pick up your backpacks. There is exciting news in store for you! Beginning in July, a Nevada law will encourage school children aged 9-11 to visit and play in any of Nevada’s 26 state parks for free.

Nevada’s “Kids to Parks” program was prompted by new state legislation which was signed into law by Governor Brian Sandoval in May. It is modeled after the federal Every Kid in Park program, which offers passes to fourth-graders and their families for free admission to more than 2,000 federal public lands, waters, and shores. Assembly Bill 385 made headlines when fifth-graders from western Las Vegas schools wrote letters to their legislators showing their support and appreciation for the bill. The new legislation ensures that every fifth-grader in the state has access to a pass that gives the child and anyone accompanying them free admission to any state park and recreational area for one year.

With the Every Kid in a Park pass for fourth-graders already in place, Nevada’s new pass means that school children in the state will have two continuous academic years of free entry to its national and state parks, a move applauded by parents, educators, and children themselves! This is the second of Sandoval’s initiatives this year that promotes increased access to the outdoors for Nevada’s children and families. In January, the Nevada governor directed $13.2 million in state general funds to the state park system in order to boost the state’s flagship Explore Your Nevada initiative.  

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Photo credit: Chris Rief, National Park Trust

Nevada is not the only state thinking about ways to encourage school children to get outdoors. States such as Indiana, Maryland, New York, Wyoming, Idaho, and New Mexico have been honoring the federal Every Kid in a Park pass in their state parks. Last year, Indiana State Parks declared that they would provide free admission to fourth-graders with the federal pass. Since Indiana State Parks charge park visitors a vehicle entry fee, this allowed for free entry to parks not only for the fourth-grader but also for all those accompanying the fourth grader in the same vehicle. Similarly, in Maryland, Governor Hogan announced that the Every Kid in a Park pass would be accepted by all state parks for the 2016-2017 school year. Not to be left out, New York, too, honors the federal pass both in state parks and in historic sites. In Wyoming, the fourth grade passes are being accepted by the state parks for the second year in a row. New Mexico State Parks allow free entry for fourth-graders with the federal pass and, in the past, have aimed at connecting four million fourth graders with nature through this program.

The importance of bringing children and adults closer to nature cannot be overstated. Studies have shown that for children, connecting with nature translates into enriching social experiences with families and friends. Being outdoors helps children to be creative, curious, explorative, and create great memories that they cherish as adults. Besides contributing towards positive psychological development in children, the natural world also helps them remain fit and healthy. The American Heart Association recognizes childhood obesity as the number one health concern of American children and prescribes outdoor physical activities as prevention. Surveys reveal that Americans perceive nature to be integral for their physical, spiritual, and emotional development. And spending time outdoors during childhood significantly increases the chances that children will develop a lifelong love and appreciation for the outdoors, and continue going back year after year, with or without the pass.

Nevada’s new legislation giving children and their families more opportunities to enjoy nature and the outdoors is a welcomed initiative that should be replicated by the rest of the nation. We encourage other states to follow Nevada’s lead.

OAK is seeking testimonials from children, parents, caregivers and teachers to share the impact of the Every Kid in a Park program. If your organization is planning an Every Kid in a Park event (or has already completed one), please help share the impact of the outdoor experience by encouraging youth participants to fill out the “I love my Every Kid in a Park pass because…” postcard and send it to OAK!

Photos courtesy of Chris Rief, National Park Trust

The Power of Partnerships: OAK Helps National Park Trust’s Kids to Parks Day Soar

guest blog by Grace Lee, Executive Director of National Park Trust

Last year during the centennial of the National Park Service, our national parks alone enjoyed more than 330 million park visitors. Great news – right? Unfortunately, most of their visitors are white and aging. Young people are our next generation of park stewards and outdoor enthusiasts, thus it’s critical for the future of our parks and public lands to engage and cultivate this important segment of society.

To address this problem, National Park Trust created Kids to Parks Day in 2011 to engage youth from diverse communities with the great outdoors. This country-wide park “holiday” is celebrated annually on the third Saturday of May, the weekend before Memorial Day.

In our first year, we were thrilled to engage 18,000 participants. Little do we know that in just 7 short years, our participation would soar to more than 1 million on May 20th, 2017!

What makes Kids to Parks Day hum? It’s all about the power of partnerships. Thanks to our many national collaborators and partners including the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK), we’ve leveraged our combined “reach”, to engage 3.5 million youth over the years and across the country – promoting 1) education, 2) healthy outdoor recreation, and 3) environmental stewardship.

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Kids to Parks Day National School Contest winner Finger Lake Elementary at West Butte Trail State Park (Palmer, AK). Photo credit: Finger Lake Elementary.

One notable example, this year OAK member PBS Kids’ Nature Cat heard about National Park Trust during an OAK quarterly membership call. Nature Cat contacted National Park Trust and together we teamed-up (along with National Park Trust’s mascot Buddy Bison) for three signature Kids to Parks Day events at Ft. McHenry (Baltimore, MD), Constitution Gardens (Washington, D.C.) and Channel Islands (Ventura, CA). These events were three of the more than 1,700 family-friendly park programs that were available across the country on May 20th and posted on our site – many of the events were either hosted, organized, and/or promoted by OAK members!

However, Kids to Parks Day (KTP) is not just about one day of outdoor recreation – it promotes year-round use of parks by kids and their families. KTP Day gives life to National Park Trust mascot, Buddy Bison’s message: “Explore outdoors, the parks are yours!”

We look forward to working with OAK next year to get even more kids outdoors on Kids to Parks Day 2018 –May 19th!

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Kids to Parks Day celebration at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine (Baltimore, MD). Photo credit: Chris Rief, National Park Trust.
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Kids to Parks Day celebration at Constitution Gardens with Buddy Bison and Nature Cat.        Photo credit: Chris Rief, National Park Trust.

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On Mother’s Day And Beyond, Moms Can Lead The Way In Getting Kids Outdoors

guest blog by
Mary Anne Hitt, Director of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign; and
Jackie Ostfeld, Director of the Sierra Club Nearby Nature Initiative and Co-Founding Chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids

SIERRA CLUB: Mary Anne Hitt with daughter Hazel; Jackie Ostfeld with son Dylan.

As moms, we can’t wait for this Sunday’s holiday, filled with adorable homemade craft projects, meals with family, and lots of hugs. For our families, spending time outdoors is another way of sharing some love – love of our families and of our natural world. It turns out we’re not alone. According to a new report, moms play a pivotal role in inspiring a passion for the outdoors in the next generation.

We love taking our kids (Mary Anne’s daughter Hazel is 7 and Jackie’s son Dylan is almost 2) into the woods and to our local waterways. We all love camping, hiking, gardening, and biking together, and it’s truly magical to see the outdoors through a child’s eyes. They notice the little things, they appreciate what many adults overlook, and we long to keep that fire burning within them as they grow older, both because it will bring them great joy, and because we hope making a connection to nature now will inspire them to protect it as they grow up.

Unfortunately, today’s children are growing up indoors, with fewer opportunities to explore nature than we had in our childhood. In fact, today’s kids spend 50 percent less time outdoors than our generation did as children – isn’t that shocking? Some of the barriers to spending time outdoors are lack of public parks that are safe and close to home, insufficient public transportation connected to natural areas, and school budget cuts which have led to reductions in field trips.

The recent REI report on women in the outdoors highlights some statistics that trouble us:

  • 63 percent of women said they could not think of an outdoor female role model
  • 6 in 10 women say that men’s interests in outdoor activities are taken more seriously than women’s

What role can moms play in changing those statistics? We play a very big part, as it turns out. Here’s the good news from the same REI report: “Mothers are the number one mentor that women cite when asked about who inspires them to get outdoors.” In fact, both of our moms played a key role in inspiring our love for the outdoors, and they are our role models as we do the same for our kids.

SIERRA CLUB: Jackie Ostfeld and son Dylan at the Grand Canyon.

Mother’s Day is an opportunity for moms to continue to inspire and teach the love of the great outdoors to our kids. We know how great it is to be outside – the REI report shows that as well too:

More than 85 percent of all women surveyed believe the outdoors positively affects mental health, physical health, happiness and overall well-being, and 70 percent reported that being outdoors is liberating.

Moms can make amazing strides in getting their kids and families outdoors – it doesn’t have to involve planning a major trip to a National Park (although that’s fun, too!). Encouraging your kids to appreciate the outdoors can start close to home like in a local public park or a community garden. The first steps can be easy, like backyard campouts, exploring the wildlife in the neighborhood – from bugs to birds to flowers – and taking your kids and their friends and moms on hikes in a local park.

This Mother’s Day, get outdoors with your family. Plan some spring and summer hikes or park visits. Moms can and will continue to make a tremendous difference in ensuring kids can enjoy, explore and protect the outdoors. And moms can encourage other moms to help ensure all kids have opportunities to get outdoors, too! Pledge to help ensure all kids have opportunities to experience nature.

Share your story of getting outdoors with your family! Post a photo (new or old) on social media with your mom or your children with #MomsOutdoors or complete the following phrase “My favorite memory with my #momsoutdoors is: ___”

Happy Mother’s Day!

North Face Global Athletes and Partners Connect Kids with the Outdoors in “Every Kid in a Park” Event

guest blog by Annie Yearout, Author of OutdoorsyMama.com – originally appeared on outdoorsymama.blogspot.com  

Celebrating “Every Kid in a Park” granting free National Park Passes to all 4th graders nationwide!
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. Photo: National Park Trust
The super-tall, super-lean, super-endurance runner Dylan Bowman is bent over a bunch of outdoor gear – warm jacket, rain layer, etc – rolling up each item as tightly as possible and stuffing them into a backpack, demonstrating to a group of wide-eyed 4th graders how to pack a backpack for a day hike.
He leans in and asks this small group of eight or so kids from Hoover Elementary School in Oakland, California: how many of you have ever gone hiking? Two of the eight kids raise their hands. Just two.
 
North Face global athlete Dylan Bowman teaching about packing a backpack.
Photo: National Park Trust
I don’t know why I find that number surprising. I suppose it’s because I live and breathe the outdoors and I’m surrounded by like minded enthusiasts both in my community and online. But once I reach out of my comfort-bubble-zone, I remember the stark reality that most kids in the United States don’t have my kind of access to the outdoors and don’t get to go to parks beyond their local, neighborhood park.
That’s why last week’s event at the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, which brought together 60 students from Oakland to enjoy a day of outdoor games and exploring and was sponsored by a powerful partnership of outdoor-kid-evangelist players, is so vital and touching. 
The official 4th Grade Pass to all U.S. National Parks.
Each and every one of these 60 – 4th graders was proudly given a National Parks Pass to hang around their necks, as if receiving an Olympic Medal, for their entire family to have free access to all of America’s public lands and waters for the entire year, an initiative funded by “Every Kid in a Park” which launched out of the White House last year. And to support and celebrate that initiative, The North Face Explore Fund, The Outdoors Alliance for Kids, The National Park Service and The National Park Trust have all banded together to create this event and similar events around the nation.
Teaching a group of eager 4th graders how to set up a tent.
Photo: National Park Trust
Why is this so important?
“Too few children have opportunities to explore and enjoy the natural world and programs like this are critical to ensuring all kids can visit their public lands,” explains OAK Co-Founder and Chair, Jackie Ostfeld. And she’s right. By providing free access to our nation’s great and treasured parks, this initiative helps alleviate a piece of one the barriers, a financial one, and allows more families to play in the outdoors which in turn brings about a healthier, more active population overall. 
Senior Director of Outdoor Exploration at The North Face, Ann Krcik aptly adds, “through the Explore Fund grants, we are building a community of outdoor explorers and inspiring people to love and protect the places where we play.” This is key. This is vital. By introducing this giant population of 4th graders and their families to the Parks every year, we are creating stewards for wild places and green spaces for generations to come.
North Face athletes mixing it up in the backpack relay race with some giddy 4th graders.
Photo: National Park Trust
So now we circle back to our super-athlete Dylan Bowman and this diverse group of wide-eyed kids hanging onto his every word. The “backpack relay race” starts and each kid is gleefully rolling up gear and smashing it into the backpack as fast as possible to beat the other team of classmates next to them, racing back and forth, gear and bodies flying everywhere.
It’s this kind of giddy joy that helps tells the story of why getting these kids access to the outdoors is so important and why so many groups are making this their mission.
Let’s all grab our backpacks and jump on board. To the summit!
 
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Fourth Graders Get on the River in Anacostia Park

Guest Blog by Brenna Muller, OAK Program Manager

November 22, 2016

Last week, members of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) came together for our annual gathering in Washington, D.C. to ensure kids across America can experience our national parks and public lands. As part of the week’s events, members of OAK joined the National Park Trust and 40 fourth graders from Wheatley Education Campus DC Public School for a special educational field trip to Anacostia Park. We were joined by partners from the National Park Service, the DC Department of Energy & Environment and the Anacostia Watershed Society.

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Photo Credit: National Park Trust

The outing was in support of the Every Kid in a Park initiative. Every Kid in a Park, launched by President Obama, provides all fourth graders and their families free access to all federal lands, waters and shores for the entire school year.

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Photo Credit: National Park Trust

The fourth graders participated in three educational activity stations. A river boat tour led by the Anacostia Watershed Society was a favorite, as students had the opportunity to get out on the water and learn about the history of the Anacostia River, and enjoyed seeing a blue heron, turtles, and other wildlife.

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Photo Credit: National Park Trust

A river walk tour featured a history and ecology lesson of the park and the river. The students also learned about local wildlife during a guided tour of the Anacostia Resources Education Center and Aquarium.  

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Photo Credit: National Park Trust

This event was one of several that OAK members have held in order to help President Obama reach his goal to connect all fourth graders with the outdoors. Earlier in the week, several OAK members received Leaf Awards for their support for this important initiative.

Thanks to National Park Trust, Anacostia Watershed Society, National Park Service, and Department of Energy & the Environment for a fun and memorable outing for both the students and OAK members who participated!