Tag Archives: Kids and Nature

Every Kid in a Park Youth Blog Series: Post #8 Tigran

Junior Ranger Tigran with Buddy Bison
Photo Credit: National Park Trust

Every Kid in a Park – Youth Blog Series, Post #8
Interview with Tigran, Buddy Bison Student Ambassador

Meet Tigran, a twelve year old* from California. Tigran serves as a Buddy Bison Student Ambassador through the National Park Trust and is a true advocate for getting other kids in the outdoors! His incredible involvement has earned him the Gold President’s Volunteer Service Award. Tigran shares with us his experience at multiple parks and the importance of getting more kids like him to become park stewards.

What is your name, age, and where are you from?

Tigran: Tigran, age 12, from Ojai, California.

What do you love about the outdoors?

Tigran: The outdoors has amazing beauty and abundant wildlife. The outdoors allows people to relax and explore amazing places that no photo can truly capture.

What is your happiest memory in the outdoors?

Tigran: My happiest outdoor memory is exploring Santa Cruz Island with my family and seeing my very first island fox. I was able to spend some time watching it and I took lots of pictures.

What is your role with National Park Trust?

Tigran: I am the first student Buddy Bison Ambassador. I write for the Buddy Bison’s Buzz newsletter and I post on Instagram and Twitter (@jrrangertigran).

As an ambassador, I encourage children to take Buddy Bison on outdoor adventures with them. I get to help out at special events and hand out Buddy Bison stuffed animals, t-shirts, and Every Kid in a Park passes.  

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Photo Credit: National Park Trust

What do you love the most about being a student Buddy Bison Ambassador?

Tigran: My favorite part about being an ambassador is motivating kids to get outdoors, be active and healthy, and explore our beautiful national parks.

Can you talk about one of your biggest volunteer projects you’ve helped organize or been a part of? Why did you enjoy it so much?

Tigran: My longest volunteer project was the National Park Service Centennial Challenge. The challenge was to volunteer for 201.6 hours in 2016. I started the first of the year by kicking off the Rose Parade in Pasadena. I volunteered many days at the Channel Islands National Park visitor center and worked at  many special events: coastal cleanups, native island plant sales, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area Bird Festival, NPS events at the Museum of Ventura County, Junior Ranger Day, Backbone Trail dedication, Ventura County Fair’s Channel Islands National Park booth, Parade of Lights, Tomatomania, Earth Day,  BioBlitz, Kids to Parks Day, and NEEF Hands on the Land island restoration projects. I also became a youth board member of Channel Islands Park Foundation. I am proud to say that I exceeded the challenge and I was honored to receive the Gold President’s Volunteer Service Award, which is the highest honor the President awards a volunteer (other than the Lifetime Achievement Award—I’m a little young for that!).

I enjoyed the variety of events I was able to assist with but my favorite part was when I was able to combine my roles to help bring children to the park. National Park Trust and Channel Islands Park Foundation partnered to bring 4th graders to Anacapa Island in support of Every Kid in a Park to meet Dr. Sylvia Earle for the celebration of BioBlitz and Kids to Parks Day. They all had a great time and each student received their Every Kid in a Park pass and earned their junior ranger badges.

What is one of your favorite parks you’ve visited and why? Who did you go with?

Tigran: This is a very hard question because all of the national parks are unique in their own ways. But Channel Islands National Park is special to me because I earned my first junior ranger badge there when I was five. It is an amazing park because of the diversity of wildlife on land and in the sea. I first experienced the Park with my parents and now my parents and I are all volunteers for Channel Islands National Park and the Channel Islands Park Foundation.

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

Tigran: It’s good to spend time outdoors with your family because it builds wonderful memories and teaches important lessons and skills such as perseverance by completing long hikes, and it teaches us to be more aware of the environment and the importance of protecting our incredible parks for future generations.

Have you heard about the Every Kid in a Park program? If so, were you able to participate? Why or why not?

Tigran: Yes, I love the Every Kid in a Park program. Unfortunately, I was one year too old to participate in the program. However, I have helped promote the program on social media. Every Kid in a Park used my photograph to promote the program in Scholastic Magazine, and I am happy to say that the entire fourth grade class at my school participated in the program.

Do you think this program is important to continue for future generations?

Tigran: Yes, it’s important to continue the program because it gets kids involved with nature when they are young, yet old enough to get the full educational experience of our beautiful parks.

Is there anything you’d like to say to the people who run the program?

Tigran: I would like to say thank you for creating the program. It helps kids to have easier access to our national treasures. It gives the opportunity to participate in the junior ranger programs and become park stewards. I would not have become a Buddy Bison Student Ambassador, a National Park volunteer or a Channel Islands Park Foundation Board Member without the junior ranger program.

What advice would you give to other students who are perhaps visiting a national park for the first time or receiving their Every Kid in a Park pass?

Tigran: First of all, take your time to look around to get the most out of your visit. A great way to do that is to earn your junior ranger badge, which will help guide your activities in the park. Be sure to talk to rangers—they can often share stories that you can’t find at the visitor center. They each have such incredible knowledge of our parks. Just head outdoors and make the most of your special pass.

What would you want to be when you grow up? Is it related to the outdoors?

Tigran: My ultimate goal is to be the Director of the National Park Service. It would be an honor to direct the preservation and protection of our beautiful and unique national parks.

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Photo Credit: National Park Trust
august-2016
Photo Credit: National Park Trust, Maddie Freed

*Since the posting of this blog, Tigran has now turned 13! Happy birthday, Tigran!

Fourth Graders Float into OAK Week 2017

Parent and two kids canoeing along the Potomac River
Photo Credit: National Park Trust

All photo credits go to the National Park Trust.

Classrooms on water is a new way of learning for students across the nation. This new type of classroom allows students to learn about science, history, geography, and culture while floating along a river. This past week, Wilderness Inquiry’s Canoemobile program traveled to the nation’s capital giving students in Washington D.C. the chance to experience a unique outdoor field trip on the Potomac River.

The National Park Service advocates for “Parks as Classrooms,” and it’s no different when talking about rivers and bodies of water. Canoemobile brings the classroom to the outdoors, engaging youth in environmental stewardship and recreational opportunities. Canoemobile is a collaboration of federal, state, and local partners.

OAK members joined Wilderness Inquiry and National Park Trust for a special Canoemobile event in Washington, D.C. with partners The North Face, National Park Service, and the U.S. Forest Service to celebrate the Every Kid in a Park program and kick off OAK’s annual gathering.

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A highlight in the event was the distribution of Every Kid in a Park passes. This interagency program grants fourth graders nationwide free entry for them and their families to more than 2,000 federally managed lands and waters nationwide for an entire year.  The goal of the Every Kid in a Park program is to inspire fourth graders everywhere to visit our federal lands and waters. The program works to ensure “every child” in the U.S. has the opportunity to visit and enjoy their federal lands and waters by the time he or she is 11 years old. Having just been renewed for its third year this past September, the passes given to these students will be valid until August 31, 2018.

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Seventy fourth graders from D.C. public schools were able to take 24-foot Voyageur canoes along the Potomac river and learn about the watershed. For many of these students, although the Potomac river is just a few miles away, they have never actually been on the river to participate recreationally. With the proper instruction, the fourth graders were able to safely enjoy the Potomac River and learn about its environmental importance.

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Partnering organizations led activity stations for the students. The North Face led students through a relay race activity which taught students how to properly pack a backpack and build a tent for a camping trip. With a little competition and movement, students were able to stay engaged and learn new skills about recreating in the outdoors.

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As a wrap up to the morning of events, the fourth graders were asked to fill out postcards from OAK explaining why they love their Every Kid in a Park pass. This initiative is part of a larger national campaign OAK is organizing for any fourth grader in the nation. To download and mail in postcard from home, visit the OAK website.

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Even WTOP, a local FM radio station, stopped by to cover the event! Read their story.

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This youth event kicked off this year’s official OAK Week. Later in the afternoon, OAK formally welcomed all member organizations with a Welcome Reception & Member Awards. In the next two days, OAK continued with its Annual Member Meeting, Networking Happy Hour, Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill, and finalized the week with a Congressional Awards Reception.

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Learn more about the Outdoors Alliance for Kids and ways to joining this national strategic partnership which advocates for equitable and readily available opportunities for children, youth and families to connect with the outdoors.

EVERY KID IN A PARK: YOUTH BLOG SERIES POST #5 Nicole

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Every Kid in a Park – Youth Blog Series, Post #5
Interview with Nicole, incoming 4th grader and Every Kid in a Park pass recipient

Nicole is an incoming 4th grader at Harmony Hills Elementary School in Montgomery County, Maryland. Interviewer, Isabel Argoti, introduced Nicole and her family to the Every Kid in a Park program and they are excited to participate in the program this school year. Nicole shares with us her excitement about the outdoors and her sentiments about the program.

What is your name, age, and where are you from?
Nicole: My name is Nicole. I’m 9 years old and will be attending Harmony Hills Elementary School.

What do you love about the outdoors and nature? What do you like to do outdoors?
Nicole: I like all the colorful plants that are around me and how beautiful nature is. I like to take a short walk with my dogs and playing basketball with my mom when we have free time.

Have you visited Rock Creek Park or some of the other national parks or monuments around Washington D.C.? If so, what did you like about them?
Nicole: I went to the Martin Luther King Jr. monument it was so cool because it was my first time seeing it.

What about to parks such as Shenandoah National Park? (shows photos)
Nicole: No I haven’t.

Well did you know that with your Every Kid in a Park pass you could visit these sites plus hundreds of others, with your Every Kid in a Park pass for free this upcoming school year? How does that make you feel?
Nicole: Excited and happy because I get to see and experience a place I’ve never seen or been to.

That’s great! Who do you think you will go visit these parks with?
Nicole: I will be visiting with my family –parents and sisters.

What does being in the outdoors and enjoying nature mean to you?
Nicole: Hanging out with my family and friends. It’s a break and escape from what we usually have to do.

Do you think all kids your age should receive this pass to visit national parks? Why or why not?
Nicole: Yes because everyone needs to know about nature and learn more about it. I also think they should know about the program [because] some kids are always on their phones, video games, and TV.

I totally agree, Nicole! Any last comments or anything you’d like to say about the program?
Nicole: Yes, in my opinion I think the government should support the park [and program]. It helps other kids to learn more about nature. I also think that the government should give more money to the park to keep them clean, nice, and beautiful. And also to have lights everywhere so people can go to the park until night time!


Nicole attends a Title I school where over 80% of the students participate in the Free and Reduced Meals (FARMs) program, over 40% of the students are English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) learners, and 90% of the students are either Hispanic or black. Nicole and her family have never visited large national parks before, but they hope to do so now with Nicole’s new Every Kid in a Park pass. Nicole is a first generation student in the United States and her family is originally from Ecuador.

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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 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 #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!

 

Boston Fourth Graders Receive Passes to Visit Public Lands and Waters

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, June 23, 2017

Contact:   Grace Lee, 301-706-3407, grace@parktrust.org  
Liza Stearns, 617-201-7217, liza_stearns@nps.gov
Brenna Muller, 202-630-1864, brenna.muller@sierraclub.org  

Boston Fourth Graders Receive Passes to Visit Public Lands and Waters

Every Kid in a Park Event at Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area connects children with nature

[Boston, MA] – Today, partners came together to ensure kids across America can experience our national parks and public lands. The National Park Trust, The North Face, and the Outdoors Alliance for Kids joined the National Park Service to co-host an Every Kid in a Park event at Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park for 90 fourth graders from The Donald McKay K-8 School. This is the final event in a special Every Kid in a Park event series hosted in five different cities (NYC, D.C, San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston), all funded by The North Face Explore Fund.

“We are proud to support the Every Kid in a Park initiative and programs that expose participants to the beauty and joy of the outdoors,” said Ann Krcik, Senior Director of Outdoor Exploration at The North Face. “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.”

The students received one-year entry passes to America’s federal public lands and waters through the Every Kid in a Park program, which seeks to connect young people with the great outdoors. By inspiring children to visit their national parks and public lands, waters and shores, the program aims to develop a lifelong connection to these special places shared by all Americans.

“We were delighted to work with The North Face and the Outdoors Alliance for Kids to connect local Boston 4th graders to Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. They experienced a fun-filled day learning about local wildlife, history and outdoor recreation — and the importance of enjoying and preserving these special places,” stated Grace Lee, Executive Director, National Park Trust.

“Providing Boston youth with opportunities to discover and forge connections with the natural wonders and complex stories of their public lands is key to cultivating the next generation of park stewards and civic leaders,” said Michael Creasey, Superintendent of the National Parks of Boston.  “We are delighted to welcome these Boston fourth graders to Spectacle Island and trust that the ferry will depart at the end of the day with 90 public lands ambassadors eager to introduce their harbor islands to family and friends.”

“The Outdoors Alliance for Kids is honored to support the Every Kid in a Park program to connect all kids, starting with fourth graders, with the outdoors,” said OAK co-founder and chair, Jackie Ostfeld. “Too few children have opportunities to explore and enjoy the natural world and programs like this ensure more kids have the chance to visit and learn about our shared public lands, waters and shores.

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About The North Face®: The North Face, a division of VF Outdoor, Inc., was founded in 1966 with the goal of preparing outdoor athletes for the rigors of their next adventure. Today we are the world’s leading outdoor brand, creating athlete-tested, expedition-proven products that help people explore and test the limits of human potential. We protect our outdoor playgrounds and minimize our impact on the planet through programs that encourage sustainability. The North Face products are available at premium and specialty retail sporting goods stores globally and we are headquartered in California on a LEED Platinum-certified campus. For more information, please visit www.thenorthface.com.

About the National Park Service: More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 413 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Visit us at www.nps.gov, on Facebook www.facebook.com/nationalparkservice, Twitter www.twitter.com/natlparkservice, and YouTube www.youtube.com/nationalparkservice.

About the National Parks of Boston: The National Parks of Boston is a collection of three National Park Service sites – Boston National Historical Park, Boston African American National Historic Site, and Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park. Established by individual legislation and for designated purposes, the three units have come together under a unified organizational umbrella to collaborate in ways that celebrate our nation’s cultural heritage, reconnect people to history and nature, and provide outdoor recreation opportunities on land and on the water. Visit us at www.nps.gov/boaf, www.nps.gov/bost, www.bostonharborislands.org.

About the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation:  Beaches, wooded parks, parkways, and reservoirs – All of these places make up the Massachusetts State Parks. You can find a place to go in all regions of the Commonwealth from Pittsfield to the Boston Harbor Islands. The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR, Mass Parks) is one of 12 managing partners of this national and state park and owns and manages more than half of the islands including Georges and Spectacle Islands as well as the other four islands that are serviced by the public ferry.

About Boston Harbor Now:  In April of 2016, Boston Harbor Now launched as a new non-profit civic organization with a bold mission: to ensure a vibrant and sustainable future for Boston’s harbor, waterfront and islands.   Boston Harbor Now works with public and private partners to expand access to open space and recreational, educational and cultural opportunities harbor-wide, to plan for and build an integrated and expanded water transportation system, and to foster economic development and growth that is resilient to sea-level rise and the effects of climate change. Boston Harbor Now plays a unique role as the non-profit partner of the Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park raising funds to help the National Park Service, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the City of Boston and hundreds of youth and community organizations to build visitor amenities and recreational infrastructure like campsites and trail networks, to provide interpretive, educational and cultural programs and volunteer opportunities, and to provide free access for children and families from low-income communities.

About National Park Trust: National Park Trust, a 501(c)(3) non profit, is dedicated to preserving parks today and creating park stewards for tomorrow. Since 1983, NPT has completed land projects benefiting 40 national parks. Since 2009,​ our 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).

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

Nature Play Coming to Every Community

 OAK member guest blog by Allen Cooper, from National Wildlife Federation

originally published in Wildlife Promise

Every parent who has ever watched a child play in nature has cause to rejoice. NWF’s guide Nature Play & Learning Places: Creating and Managing Places Where Children Engage with Nature shows how to design and manage nature play areas and bring them to children in every community.

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One of the nature play areas featured in the guide is at Silver Falls State Park in Oregon, a nature play area designed around a wildlife habitat theme.  The play area is a quarter-mile loop of adventure pods. Children can climb a tree, growl like a bear, hide out in a cougar’s den, weave a bird’s nest, and look for tracks. “From the beginning of the design process Oregon Parks and Recreation Department wanted this to be a nature inspired space for kids,” said Michelle Mathis, designer of the nature play area and a contributor to the guide. “So often we are asking families to drive to a park, hike to look at the park’s beautiful scenery, then walk back (while leaving no trace). One of the main goals of the design was to create opportunities for sensory engagement with nature. We wanted to create a lasting bond between the kids and the park.”

A Chance for Kids to Reconnect Nature

Nature Play & Learning Places is a project of the National Wildlife Federation and the Natural Learning Initiative at the College of Design, North Carolina State University. The guidelines draw from principal author Robin Moore’s extensive landscape design experience, case studies of 12 existing nature play areas across the country, and the contributions from the members of a national steering committee and a technical advisory committee, which consisted of representatives from more than 20 national organizations.

The project was funded by the US Forest Service. Children spend almost 40 hours a week on digital devices, and half the time outdoors than they did 20 years ago.  Nature play areas are an innovative way to reconnect kids with nature and build a lifelong bond with wildlife. “Nature play and learning places are an innovative and fun way to connect families with our public lands,” said Fran Mainella, former director of the National Park Service and a visiting scholar at Clemson University. “They can help us improve children’s health and learning and encourage appreciation for wildlife and natural systems.”

For a free download of the guide visit http://online.nwf.org/natureplayandlearning.