Tag Archives: National Park Service

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

NPT Logo 4 RPTNF_Logo_Regular 2012_CMYK_OAK_Logo_Color_Full_Quality_smallimageboston harbor nowdcrlogo

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

CHICAGO FOURTH GRADERS RECEIVE PASSES TO VISIT PUBLIC LANDS AND WATERS

NPT Logo 4 RP  TNF_Logo_Regular 2012_CMYK_  OAK_Logo_Color_Full_Quality_small  image

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Contact: Grace Lee, 301-706-3407, grace@parktrust.org; Kim Swift, 219-395-1622, kimberly_swift@nps.gov; Brenna Muller, 202-630-1864, brenna.muller@sierraclub.org

Chicago Fourth Graders Receive Passes to Visit Public Lands and Waters

Every Kid in a Park Event at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore connects children with nature

[Chicago] – 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 the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore for 60 fourth graders from the Chicago Academy. This is the fourth 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 Chicago 4th graders to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. 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.

“Turning kids onto National Parks and public lands via the Every Kid in a Park Program charts a course for a lifetime of adventure. I can think of no better gift to our children,” said Paul Labovitz, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore superintendent.

“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.”

###

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 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 more than 100 land projects benefiting 40 national parks and other public lands in 33 states and Washington, D.C. Since 2009, our Buddy Bison School Program and national Kids to Parks Day have engaged 2,000,000 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

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!
 
For more conversation about the outdoors find me on twitter, facebook and instagram.
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Fourth Graders Receive Passes to Visit Public Lands and Waters

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Contact:   Grace Lee, 301-706-3407, grace@parktrust.orgLynn Cullivan, 415-561-7006, lynn_cullivan@nps.govBrenna Muller, 202-630-1864, brenna.muller@sierraclub.org  

Fourth Graders Receive Passes to Visit Public Lands and Waters

Every Kid in a Park Event at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park connects children with nature

[San Francisco] – 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 San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park for 60 fourth graders from Hoover Elementary School. This is the third event in a special Every Kid in a Park event series hosted in five different cities (NYC, D.C, San Francisco, Boston, and Chicago), 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 free passes to America’s public lands and waters through the Every Kid in a Park initiative, which seeks to connect young people with the great outdoors by granting free entry to national parks and public lands, waters and shores for all fourth-graders and their families.

The North Face global athlete and endurance runner, Dylan Bowman, also joined the event to share his passion for the outdoors and lead activity stations. Dylan engaged the fourth graders in a fun warm up and relay race to help inspire the kids to be active and enjoy our natural playgrounds.

“We were delighted to work with The North Face and the Outdoors Alliance for Kids to connect local Bay-area 4th graders to the Maritime National Historical Park. 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.

“We are excited to launch the second year of our Every Kid In a Park program, and welcome a new crew of fourth graders to San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park,” Superintendent Kevin Hendricks said. “With so many significant National Park sites right here in our local area, I know that these Bay Area youth will be well on the way to discovering their National Parks.”

“The Outdoors Alliance for Kids is honored to support the Every Kid in a Park initiative to connect fourth graders across America 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 are critical to ensuring all kids can visit their public lands.

###

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 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 more than 100 land projects benefiting 40 national parks and other public lands in 33 states and Washington, D.C.  Since 2009, our Buddy Bison School Program and national Kids to Parks Day have engaged 2,000,000 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 more than eighty businesses and organizations, led by a steering committee which includes representatives from the Alliance for Childhood, American Heart Association, Children & Nature Network, Latino Outdoors, National Recreation and Park Association, National Wildlife Federation, NatureBridge, The North Face, Public Lands Service Coalition (a program of The Corps Network), REI, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society and the YMCA of the USA to address the growing divide between children, youth and the natural world. For more information: www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org

DC 4th Graders Get Free Passes to Visit Public Lands and Waters

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, October 7, 2016

Contact:   Grace Lee, 301-706-3407, grace@parktrust.org ; Brenna Muller, 202-630-1864, brenna.muller@sierraclub.org  

DC 4th Graders Get Free Passes to Visit Public Lands and Waters

[DC] – 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 in Rock Creek Park for 50 fourth graders from E.W. Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School. This is the second of five events 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 free passes to America’s public lands and waters through the Every Kid in a Park initiative, which seeks to connect young people with the great outdoors by granting free entry to national parks for all fourth-graders and their families.

“We were delighted to work with The North Face and the Outdoors Alliance for Kids to connect local 4th-grade students to Rock Creek Park where they experienced a fun-filled day learning about local wildlife, watersheds, and outdoor recreation — and the importance of enjoying and preserving these special places,” stated Grace Lee, Executive Director, National Park Trust.

“We’re thrilled to celebrate our centennial and kick off the second year of the Every Kid In a Park program by welcoming new groups of fourth graders to Rock Creek Park, their national park in the heart of the city,” Superintendent Tara Morrison said. “This is one of many amazing national parks in the D.C. area, and we’re committed to helping as many fourth graders as possible get outside and Find Your Park.”

“The Outdoors Alliance for Kids is honored to participate in today’s DC launch and to support the Every Kid in a Park initiative for fourth graders across America,” said OAK Co-Founder and Chair, Jackie Ostfeld. “Too few children have opportunities to explore and enjoy the natural world. OAK members are answering President Obama’s call to action to connect America’s 4th graders with our public lands because we believe that time spent outdoors leads to healthier kids and a healthier planet.”

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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 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 more than 100 land projects benefiting 40 national parks and other public lands in 33 states and Washington, D.C.  Since 2009, our Buddy Bison School Program and national Kids to Parks Day have engaged 2,000,000 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 more than eighty businesses and organizations, led by a steering committee which includes representatives from the Alliance for Childhood, American Heart Association, Children & Nature Network, Latino Outdoors, National Recreation and Park Association, National Wildlife Federation, NatureBridge, The North Face, Public Lands Service Coalition (a program of The Corps Network), REI, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society and the YMCA of the USA to address the growing divide between children, youth and the natural world. For more information: www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org

Give me an O. A. K.

guest blog by
Jackie Ostfeld, Sierra Club’s Nearby Nature Director and OAK Chair, and
Brenna Muller, Sierra Club’s Trails and OAK Program Manager

IMG_9364Give me an O. Give me an A. Give me a K. What’s that spell? “OAK” cheered 100s of fourth graders at Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC, on Tuesday during an annual meeting of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids. This week was OAK’s fourth annual membership meeting and members from across the country gathered to celebrate the recent launch of President Obama’s Every Kid in a Park initiative, participate in a strategy meeting, and take to Capitol Hill to advocate for programs and policies that connect children and youth with the outdoors.

buddy bison
National Park Trust’s Buddy Bison greets the kids as they arrive at Rock Creek Park. “Sharing the great news about the Every Kid in a Park initiative was an exciting and historic way to kick off the 7th year of our Buddy Bison School Program,” stated National Park Trust Executive Director, Grace Lee. “The 4th grade students from two of our schools — Beacon Heights Elementary (Maryland) and Elsie Whitlow Stokes Public Charter School (Washington, D.C.) — are excited to use their free park passes to discover and explore new national park units this school year.”

Connecting 100 fourth graders from local Title 1 schools with an opportunity to Find Your Park was the highlight of the week for us, an important reminder of why we do what we do. Hundreds of smiling faces gathered acorns (OAK seeds) and took to the trail after receiving their Every Kid in a Park passes that will give them free entry to our federal lands, waters and shores for an entire year. Big thanks to Rock Creek Park and OAK member, National Park Trust for organizing the kids and bringing out the National Park Service mascot, Buddy Bison.

During the event we had the honor of hearing from Christy Goldfuss, Managing Director for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Jonathan B. Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service, Kristin Bail, Assistant Director for National Conservation Lands and Partnerships at the Bureau of Land Management, Tara Morrison, Superintendent of Rock Creek Park, Aaron Mair, President of the Sierra Club and Jamie Williams, President of The Wilderness Society. Dozens of additional OAK members helped to make the day a success including Izaak Walton League of America and the American Camp Association. Special thanks to REI and The North Face for providing the kids with bags, snacks and water bottles.

goldfuss
“Guess who all of these places belong to,” asked Christy Goldfuss of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “You. All of the public lands and waters in this country belong to all Americans.”
“During the National Park Service’s centennial celebration, we want everyone to get to know their national parks, and we’re offering a special invitation to fourth graders and their families to discover everything that national parks offer,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “We hope these free passes for fourth graders will introduce 4th graders, their classes, and their families to our national treasures, places where they can run and play, explore and learn.”
“During the National Park Service’s centennial celebration, we want everyone to get to know their national parks, and we’re offering a special invitation to fourth graders and their families to discover everything that national parks offer,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “We hope these free passes for fourth graders will introduce 4th graders, their classes, and their families to our national treasures, places where they can run and play, explore and learn.”
IMG_9351
Sierra Club President Aaron Mair gives 4th graders their passes.
“Getting outdoors with your family is fun, but it’s more than that. Because if you take care of nature, it will take care of you,” said Jamie Williams, President of The Wilderness Society.
“Getting outdoors with your family is fun, but it’s more than that. Because if you take care of nature, it will take care of you,” said Jamie Williams, President of The Wilderness Society.
Behind the scenes. OAK members getting it done.
Behind the scenes. The OAK members that make it all happen.

During the week, members of OAK’s steering committee also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with several bureaus of the Department of the Interior, making a commitment to collaborate to get more kids outdoors on public lands and waters.

IMG_9308
OAK steering committee members gather with the Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation on the rooftop of the YMCA of the USA to put pen to paper and make this partnership official.

We also rolled up our sleeves to strategize about how we’ll start moving our efforts onto the ground. OAK members learned more about some of our city strategies including Every Kid in a Park, Let’s Move! Outside and the Cities Connecting Children with Nature projects.

OAK members meeting with Colorado Congressman Jared Polis during annual advocacy day.
OAK members meeting with Colorado Congressman Jared Polis during annual advocacy day.
Kyle MacDonald of The Outdoors Empowered Network (OAK Member) on Capitol Hill for advocacy day.
Kyle MacDonald of The Outdoors Empowered Network (OAK Member) on Capitol Hill for advocacy day.

Finally, we let members of Congress know that we need them to invest in our kids. During our annual Hill day, OAK members educated members of Congress about the Transportation Reauthorization, the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act.