Tag Archives: OAK

NYC 4th graders get free passes to visit public lands and waters

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

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

NYC 4th graders get free passes to visit public lands and waters

[New York City] – 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 Gateway National Recreation Area for 90 fourth graders from Amersfort Public School (PS 119) in Brooklyn. This is the first 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 Gateway National Recreation Area where they experienced a fun-filled day learning about local wildlife, ecology, and outdoor recreation — and the importance of enjoying and preserving these special places,” stated Grace Lee, Executive Director, National Park Trust.

“We are excited that Gateway was chosen for this inaugural The North Face Explore Fund Every Kid in a Park event”, said Jen Nersesian, superintendent of Gateway National Recreation Area.  “As an urban recreation area, we strive to introduce our local students to the joy of outdoor recreation and to help create lifelong stewards for all public lands.”

“The Outdoors Alliance for Kids is honored to participate in today’s NYC 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 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

About Gateway National Recreation Area: A large diverse urban park spanning two states, Gateway combines recreational activities with natural beauty, wildlife preservation, military history and more.  Visitors can hike, picnic, swim, sunbathe, bike, visit the oldest lighthouse in the nation, see an airplane collection and camp overnight, all in the New York metropolitan area.  Gateway is one of the ten most visited national parks in the country.  For information about Gateway’s upcoming public programs, see the park’s website at http://www.nps.gov/gate.  To join the conversation about Gateway, like us on our Facebook page:  www.Facebook.com/Gatewaynps.

The 21st Century Conservation Service Corps: The Future for Public Lands

guest blog by Brandon Nguyen, Sierra Club intern, Summer 2016

Earlier this summer, the First Family visited Yosemite National Park to celebrate Father’s Day and the 100th anniversary of the National Park System in the great outdoors. Standing in a picturesque scene, with the natural legacy of Half-Dome towering several thousand feet overhead, President Obama spoke to a crowd on the importance of our outdoor areas and their unifying qualities.

“The beauty of the National Park System is it belongs to everybody. It is a true expression of our democracy: the notion that we all look after ourselves and our families, and we work hard and we make money, and we have our own homes and apartments, cars and televisions; but then there’s this part of us that is a part of everybody, something we have in common, something we share, a place where we connect with each other, and to connect with something bigger than ourselves.”

Just three days before the president’s speech, I sat in a briefing on Capitol Hill hosted by the Partnership for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC). The 21CSC is an initiative committed to increasing the number of youth and veterans engaged in protecting, restoring, and enhancing America’s great outdoors through civilian national service. The initiative simultaneously addresses the $11 billion maintenance backlog of our public lands, connects youth to the healing power of nature, and helps veterans reintegrate into society.

The amazing thing about the 21CSC is that it unites so many different people and organizations towards a common goal. Throughout the country, there are over 190 member organization of the 21CSC that give local undeserved youth and veterans the opportunity to develop professional skills while engaging in environmental stewardship projects, such as preventing wildfires and constructing hiking trails.These environmental service projects are completed through partnerships between 21CSC organizations and local, state, and federal land and water management agencies. Outside of the 21CSC are dozens of organizations, corporations, and private businesses that support the initiative. These supporters include REI, KEEN Footwear, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, and other groups that recognize the significance of the 21CSC for our parks and the outdoor industry. And finally, with the 21CSC Act (S.1993, H.R. 5114) we find bipartisan support; it was introduced in the Senate in August 2015 by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), and in the House of Representatives in April 2016 by Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA).

Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, June, 2016. Photo Credit - The Corps NetworkVermont Youth Conservation Corps, June, 2016 (Photo Credit: The Corps Network)

The 21CSC was originally started during the Obama administration under Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and has grown significantly under Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s leadership. It serves as a modern expansion on President Franklin Roosevelt’s public work relief program, the Civilian Conservation Corps. The national partnership for the 21CSC is working to reach 100,000 new corps members every year by 2018! The Outdoors Alliance for Kids and the  Sierra Club support the initiative to get all kids outdoors learning and active on our public lands.

In June, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands held a legislative hearing on the 21CSC Act, alongside its companion legislation the Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2015. Members of the committee praised these pieces of legislation that aim to provide skills and job opportunities for youth and young veterans. The 190+ member organizations of the Partnership for a 21CSC draw their participants from a diverse pool to develop a new workforce for the future of our lands and waters. Service opportunities are extended to veterans up to the age of 35, especially those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Young people, ranging from 15 to 25 year olds, from non-profit organizations to tribal governments, are also given opportunities to serve and develop their professional work skills.

In the spirit of 21CSC’s work, and to quote President Obama again:“What an incredible idea! What a worthy investment! What a precious thing we have to pass on to the next generation! Let’s make that happen.”

To learn more, visit the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps website and join the Sign-On Letter in Support of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act.

 

RELEASE: OUTDOORS ALLIANCE FOR KIDS RECEIVES SUPPORT FROM CO-FOUNDER, REI

 

July 15, 2016

 

For Immediate Release

Contact: Brenna Muller, 202-548-4581, brenna.muller@sierraclub.org

Outdoors Alliance to Kids receives support from Co-Founder, REI

Washington, DC – The Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) is honored to receive support from one of its founding steering committee members, REI. With a generous grant of $30,000, REI is ensuring OAK can continue to be an effective national advocate for equitable and readily available opportunities for children, youth and families to get outdoors.

“Extending our partnership with OAK reinforces REI’s commitment to connect our members and their families to inspiring outdoor places and programs,” said Taldi Walter, community affairs program manager for REI. “By working to further develop relationships with local and state agencies, OAK is showcasing its commitment to tackling relevant and important issues to get more children into the outdoors, yielding benefits for generations to come.”

“REI and the Sierra Club share the understanding that in order to build the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts and stewards, we need to first make sure our kids can get outdoors safely and frequently,” said Peter Martin, Executive Director of the Sierra Club Foundation, a fiscal sponsor of OAK. “The Sierra Club Foundation is pleased to support OAK’s work and to see the REI do the same. Together we can help bridge the divide between kids and nature.”

“As one of the founders of OAK, REI has been with us since the beginning. I am thrilled to see our partnership grow and deepen over the years to be better advocates for getting kids outdoors,” said Jackie Ostfeld, OAK’s Co-Founder and Chair. “On behalf of our growing alliance, I want to extend our deep gratitude to REI for believing in our vision and investing in OAK’s mission that is now shared by over 85 members.”

REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.) is a national outdoor gear and clothing retailer and a member of OAK’s Steering Committee. REI is committed to stewardship and giving back to its members, employees and communities. Find out more about REI’s stewardship efforts.

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

RELEASE: NATIONAL PARK TRUST, OUTDOORS ALLIANCE FOR KIDS RECEIVE THE NORTH FACE 2016 EXPLORE FUND GRANTS

TNF logoNPT LogoOAK Logo

National Park Trust, Outdoors Alliance for Kids Receive The North Face 2016  Explore Fund Grants

 

NPT’s Buddy Bison Program funded to increase access to the outdoors for youth in 5 urban cities.

Washington, D.C.  – June 30, 2016 – In this Centennial year of the National Park Service, National Park Trust is pleased to announce that The North Face has awarded two 2016 Explore Fund grants to benefit our national Buddy Bison School Program. The Buddy Bison program was created in 2009 with the goal of getting kids from under-served communities engaged with our nation’s parks and public lands to experience outdoor recreation, education, and service opportunities. Currently 53 Title 1 public, public charter and private schools across the country — spanning grades 2 through 8 — are participating in the program.

In partnership with the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK), the first grant, Buddy Bison Gets 4thGraders Park-ing, will be used to kick off the second year of President Obama’s Every Kid in a Park initiative in 5 cities including Washington, D.C., New York City, Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco. OAK is a national strategic partnership of over 85 organizations from diverse sectors advocating for equitable and readily available opportunities for children, youth and families to connect with the outdoors. Fourth graders from Title 1 schools in these cities will participate in marquee events with The North Face, National Park Trust, OAK and alliance members and be welcomed into the Buddy Bison School Program with funds from the Explore Fund providing park trips to national parks that promote outdoor recreation and align with their school curriculum.

“The Outdoors Alliance for Kids is answering President Obama’s call to action to get every kid in a park,” said Jackie Ostfeld, Co-Founder and Chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids. “We’re honored and thankful that The North Face has made such an important investment to ensure more and more children are able to have a park experience, and we look forward to growing our partnership.”

The second grant, Buddy Bison in the Big Apple, will be used to engage children from K through 8th grades residing in homeless shelters in New York City. Dare2BNYC, a non-profit based in New York City that works to break the cycle of poverty and improve homelessness, will once again work closely with NPT to provide access to parks for these youth. For these students, the Buddy Bison program will emphasize not only outdoor recreation and education, but also career opportunities that support our national parks and public lands. Students will have the opportunity to participate in 4 park experiences and meet with career professionals that support the parks as well as volunteers from The North Face store in Manhattan.

“As we approach the 100th birthday of the National Park Service, we are delighted to share the great news about our expanded partnership with The North Face to provide park experiences for hundreds of students from underserved communities. The Explore Fund will allow many of these students to experience their first park trip where they will enjoy fun outdoor recreation, and learn about STEM, history, park stewardship and career opportunities that support our national parks. ” stated Grace Lee, executive director, National Park Trust.

Both of these grants will be used starting this fall and throughout the 2016-2017 school year.

The North Face selected 45 nonprofits that engage their participants in opportunities that inspire a lifelong love of the outdoors. Selected programs use outdoor exploration as a catalyst for positive personal or societal change, to encourage participants to try new outdoor activities, and promote environmental stewardship values.

“Encouraging people to experience and enjoy the outdoors has been our mission at The North Face since we were founded 50 years ago,” said Ann Krcik, senior director of Outdoor Exploration at The North Face. “We are proud to support these outstanding programs that expose participants to the beauty and joy of the outdoors. Through these Explore Fund grants, we are building a community of outdoor explorers and inspiring people to love and protect the places where we play.”

As part of its mission to start a global movement of outdoor exploration, The North Face introduced Explore Fund (www.explorefund.org) in 2010 and the program has since provided more than $2.2 million in grants to organizations committed to inspiring people to explore the outdoors and care for the environment.

About The North Face®

The North Face, a division of VF Outdoor, Inc., was founded in 1966. Headquartered in Alameda, California, the company offers the most technically advanced products in the market to accomplished climbers, mountaineers, snowsport athletes, endurance athletes, and explorers. The company’s products are sold in specialty mountaineering, backpacking, running, and snowsport retailers, premium-sporting goods retailers and major outdoor specialty retail chains.

About National Park Trust

National Park Trust, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is dedicated to preserving parks today and creating park stewards for tomorrow. Since 1983, NPT has completed more than 100 park preservation projects benefiting 49 national parks and other public lands in 33 states and Washington, D.C. Since 2009, our Buddy Bison School Program and Kids to Parks Day have engaged nearly 2,000,000 students across the country with our national parks, public lands and waters.www.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

Media contact:

Caren Bell

On behalf of The North Face
510.748.2742
Grace Lee
National Park Trust
301-279-7275, ext 14
Brenna Muller
Outdoors Alliance for Kids
202-548-4581

Young Girls Learn about Gender Justice and Environmental Stewardship

guest blog post by A. Tianna Scozzaro, Director, Sierra Club’s Global Population & Environment Program

“We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends” – Mary McLeod Bethune

A powerful civil rights activist and educator, Mary McLeod Bethune devoted her career to improving the lives of African Americans. She founded a school, Bethune-Cookman College, and served as president of the National Council of Negro Women and as a top black administrator in the Roosevelt administration. The first headquarters of the council and her last home, the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House was declared a National Historic Site under the National Park Service in 1982.

In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Sierra Club partnered with theNational Park Trust to host an Every Kid in a Park event with the terrific fourth grade class from Washington School for Girls in southwest D.C. The Washington School for Girls in Anacostia is a tuition-free Catholic day school, whose students are primarily African-American girls.

The event was part of year-long celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the nation’s national parks. Whether it’s the Grand Canyon or historic and cultural sites, America’s public lands belong to us all. As we look toward the next century of conservation, the Sierra Club is working to ensure everyone has the opportunity to experience all our public lands have to offer. Through the Nearby Nature initiative and through promotion of the Every Kid in a Park campaign,  which ensures that fourth graders across America can access their parks, public lands and historical sites for free, and promotion of the Find Your Park campaign, the Sierra Club is working to build and inspire the next generation of environmental leaders, just like the young ladies of the Washington School for Girls.

Photo Credit: Sierra Club

Donning bright orange “Buddy Bison” t-shirts, the girls filed into the historic home quietly taking in the majestic chandeliers and artifacts. Sierra Club staff member Kirin Kennedy kicked off the excitement for environmentalism by explaining how people like artists, writers, and lawyers can all be advocates for environmental stewardship. Ranger Margaret Mills led the students through an enthusiastic lesson on social justice and the story of Mary McLeod Bethune, starting a school with just five students and $1.50. Her legacy lived on through four presidents.

The Sierra Club is dedicated to making the links between gender equity and environmental stewardship. We see that women’s leadership is a key answer to the climate crisis. A study of 130 countries found that countries with higher female parliamentary representation are more prone to ratify international environmental treaties.

And that link was loud and clear. These young female leaders understood that social justice, like the civil rights Mary McLeod so dearly fought for, are imperative for the the protection of each and everyone’s ability to breathe clean air, drink clean water, and enjoy, explore and protect our natural lands.

Photo Credit: Sierra Club

As the Washington School for Girls youth eagerly tore the wrapping off their brand new national park passports and lined up for stamps, one student declared “I want to live in a house like this! I want to be like Mary McLeod!” Indeed, her legacy lives on in the eager young women dedicated to protecting the earth themselves and standing up for justice.

RELEASE: Every Kid in a Park Spring Tour

OAK_Logo_Color_Full_Quality_largeEKIP_LOGO_COLOR_RGB_SM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 21, 2016

Contact: Virginia Cramer, 804-519-8449, Virginia.Cramer@sierraclub.org

Every Kid in a Park Spring Tour

Outdoors Alliance for Kids to get 1000s of fourth graders outdoors this spring

Washington, DC – Today, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids announced its Spring Every Kid in a Park program lineup. OAK members will host a series of events throughout the year to connect thousands of fourth graders with their natural and cultural heritage.

“America is blessed with unrivaled public lands and waters, and through Every Kid in a Park, we’re inviting every fourth grader and their families to enjoy our nation’s great outdoors,” said Secretary Jewell. “Through this program, every 4th grader will have an opportunity to nurture their curiosity and wonder, developing a lifelong connection to our nation’s land, water and wildlife in their backyards and beyond.”

The Every Kid in a Park program is designed to encourage all fourth graders to get outdoors. Fourth graders and their parents, teachers and caregivers can visit www.everykidinapark.gov to learn about the initiative, plan a trip and download the 4th grade voucher for free entry on all federal lands.

“OAK and its members are answering President Obama’s call to connect fourth graders across America with the public lands, waters and shores that belong to them,” said Jackie Ostfeld, Sierra Club’s Nearby Nature Director and OAK Co-Founder and Chair. “Spring has sprung and there’s no better time to kickoff efforts to ensure kids have opportunities to play and learn, as they connect with the natural world and each other.”

Announcing OAK’s Every Kid in a Park Spring Tour

March 17: In Saint Louis, MO, the National Park Trust’s Buddy Bison School program hosted 65 fourth graders from Mullanphy ILC at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. Kids got a chance to meet Buddy Bison and receive their official Every Kid in a Park passes.

March 22: In Washington, DC, the National Park Trust and Sierra Club are teaming up to bring 20 fourth grade girls from the Washington School for Girls to the Mary Mcleod Bethune Council House National Historic Site to learn about this important civil rights leader and educator during National Women’s History month.

March 23: UC Berkeley and the California Outdoor Engagement Coalition are launching a series of events to get 1000 fourth graders from Richmond, CA, outdoors. The launch event will be held at Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park where 100 kids will participate. Many organizations are supporting this launch event, including Sierra Club.

April 1: No fooling, the National Parks Conservation Association and the National Park Service, and Mahogany Youth are celebrating Every Kid in a Park in Miami, FL, where 50 kids from Miami Dade will go fishing at Biscayne National Park.

April 5: In Petaluma, CA, 85 fourth graders from Hamilton Elementary School will board Voyageur canoes in San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge during an event hosted by Wilderness Inquiry and the National Park Trust.

April 13: Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument in partnership with the YMCA of Central New Mexico will bring 100 students out to the national monument for “Every Kid in a Park: Tent Rocks!” Students will participate in environmental education activities including guided hike tours.

April 18-19: Wilderness Inquiry’s Canoemobile will be in San Francisco, CA, to get 100s of fourth graders on the water in partnership with National Park Trust.

April 21: OAK is teaming up with the National Park Conservation Association, Sierra Club, Baltimore Parks and Recreation, Baltimore Public Schools and many more to host 300 kids on the Star-Spangled Banner Water Trail during a Kids in Kayaks event in Baltimore, MD.

April 25: 150 kids (75 fourth graders) from New York City will hit the Appalachian Trail for some Wildlife tracking with the National Parks Conservation Association.

May: In a series of events throughout the month, SOS Outreach will connect over 200 Eagle County, CO, fourth graders with Colorado National Monument on a four day, three night camping trip complementing Colorado’s fourth grade curriculum on the state’s natural geography.

May 13: National Park Trust’s Buddy Bison Program will bring 64 kids (32 fourth graders) to Big Thicket National Preserve in Texas.

May 14: IslandWood, in partnership with other local organizations, will be hosting a BioBlitz at their campus on Bainbridge Island, WA. In collaboration with the National Park Service, Every Kid in a Park vouchers will be provided to fourth graders from Seattle, WA, and the Island.

May 21: Many OAK members will be on the National Mall in Washington, DC, and in other locations across the country for National Geographic’s BioBlitz.

May 25: Also in Washington, DC, 105 kids will visit the National Arboretum with the National Park Trust and the US Department of Agriculture.

May 31-June 3: In Detroit, MI, several OAK members, including Sierra Club’s Detroit Inspiring Connections Outdoors, program to bring 2,000 fourth graders to Historic Fort Wayne for a series of Every Kid in a Park events. Details are forthcoming on these events, sponsored by the Detroit Public Schools and City of Detroit Department of Recreation, the National Park Service, US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife, Army Corps of Engineers and the National Park Foundation.

Additionally, OAK members, the Outdoor Foundation and Outdoor Industry Association have launched Parks4Kids to provide micro grants to teachers, schools and nonprofits to connect our next generation with our nation’s parks and public lands. The campaign’s online platform connects individuals specific school to park experience projects. With a few clicks, funders can give $10 to $10,000 to the project(s) that most inspires them.

OAK will announce summer and fall events later in the year.

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

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Photo Credit: National Park Service; OAK helps launch Every Kid in a Park in Washington, DC

 

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.”
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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.

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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.

President Obama to Get Every Kid in a Park

guest blog by Sierra Club Nearby Nature Director and OAK Chair, Jackie Ostfeldoriginally featured in the Huffington Post

A walk in the woods will change a child’s life. That is, if she ever makes it to the trailhead. This week, President Obama unveiled the “Every Kid in a Park” initiative to connect children and their families with the great outdoors, ensuring millions of kids, regardless of where they live, will have an opportunity to take that first step in nature. The initiative will provide free entrance to our nation’s treasured public lands for every fourth grader in America — oh, and they can take their families, too.

This initiative matters, because not every kid has a forest in her backyard. In fact, most don’t. More than 80 percent of America now lives in urban areas, and this number grows every year. Opportunities to enjoy and explore nearby nature are limited for many children. Fewer than half of all kids in the United States can safely walk to a park from their home, and school testing priorities and funding cuts are reducing opportunities for physical education, recess, and field trips. Fears about playing outdoors affect how children spend their free time. And today’s youth are able to keep themselves contented indoors with television, video games, and computers; they’re clocking about fifty-three hours of screen time each week. The barriersto spending time in nature are high, and they’re even higher for low-income communities.

President Obama understands that not all kids have the same opportunities to connect with nature. Whether or not a child will climb a tree, run through a forest, roll down a hill, or splash in a creek depends a lot on where she grows up and the values and interests of her parents, teachers, and the other adult figures in her life. Last October, President Obama knocked down one roadblock to getting outside by increasing close-to-home access to the outdoors, or nearby nature, for nearly 15 million people living in Los Angeles County. When the president established the San Gabriel Mountains as a national monument, he said “too many children in L.A. County, especially children of color, don’t have access to parks where they can run free and breathe fresh air, experience nature, and learn about their own environment.” With the San Gabriel Mountains designation, President Obama protected 346,177 acres, providing improved outdoor recreation opportunities for millions of kids and families.

President Obama’s “Every Kid in a Park” is the latest in a series of barrier-busting moves he’s made to increase access to nature for all. The initiative will provide fourth graders across the nation an opportunity to visit America’s great outdoors free of charge. To support “Every Kid in a Park,” the National Park Foundation will expand its Ticket to Ride program to award transportation grants to schools in need. The initiative builds on U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s youth initiative to get children and youth playing, learning, serving, and working outdoors. And it will kick off at the beginning of the 2015 school year, just in time to start celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. As we gear up for the centennial in 2016, “Every Kid in a Park” challenges us to think about the next 100 years. What will the future of our outdoor legacy look like if we don’t make sure all kids have a chance to experience it?

The Sierra Club shares the president’s vision. Whether it’s a National Park or a neighborhood park, we’ll do our part to ensure that the next generation has opportunities to experience nature. The Sierra Club’s Nearby Nature initiative supports community-driven conservation efforts, like parks, gardens, and trails, to help ensure that close-to-home access to the outdoors becomes a reality for kids and families across the socioeconomic spectrum. Our Inspiring Connections Outdoors program has been training and supporting volunteer mentors who empower kids to get outdoors for over 40 years and now reaches 15,000 youth each year with nature-based outings in our local and national parks and everything in between. And the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, a diverse coalition of over 75 businesses and nonprofits cofounded by the Sierra Club,supports and will continue to advocate for efforts like the president’s “Every Kid in a Park” initiative that provide quality opportunities for our children to get outdoors.

photo: Kids from Sierra Club’s Washington, D.C. Inspiring Connections Outdoors on the Billy Goat Trail, Great Falls National Park

Outdoors Alliance for Kids Receives Support from Co-Founder, REI

guest blog by Sierra Club’s Nearby Nature Director and OAK’s Chair Jackie Ostfeld

I am pleased to announce that one of the founders of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK), REI, recently announced support for the Alliance with a gift of $30,000. The grant will help OAK meet our mission to connect children, youth and families with the outdoors.

Just over four years ago, before OAK was OAK, when we were just eight passionate people scheming in a room together about how we were going to help support and grow a national voice to advocate for getting youth outdoors, REI was there. REI has been with OAK from the beginning and I am thrilled to see how much this partnership has grown and deepened in just a few years. I want to extend my deep gratitude to REI for investing in OAK’s mission that is now shared by 75 organizations.

REI is dedicated to “inspiring, educating and outfitting its members and the community for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship.” OAK will help REI meet its mission by addressing the growing divide between children, youth, families and the outdoors with decision-makers at the federal, state and local levels. Through this grant, OAK will educate leaders at all levels and advocate for administrative policies directed at getting children, youth and families outdoors with a focus on education, community health and wellness, and environmental stewardship. We’ll deepen partnerships with federal agencies to coordinate, leverage and expand opportunities to get young people outside. We’ll take our work to the state and local level with the recently developed ECHO (Every Child Healthy Outdoors) Across America Toolkit. (Learn more about the ECHO Across America Toolkit by watching our online Webinar). And we’ll grow and broaden our membership.

“Extending our partnership with OAK reinforces REI’s commitment to connect our members and their families to inspiring outdoor places and programs,” said Taldi Walter, community affairs program manager for REI. “By working to further develop relationships with local and state agencies, OAK is showcasing its commitment to tackling relevant and important issues to get more children into the outdoors, yielding benefits for generations to come.”

“As OAK’s fiscal sponsor, The Sierra Club Foundation is pleased to see the growing and deepening commitment from REI to address the divide between kids and nature,” said Peter Martin, Executive Director of the Sierra Club Foundation. “REI and the Sierra Club share the understanding that in order to build the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts and stewards, we need to first make sure our kids can get outdoors safely and frequently.”

Sierra Club is one of several organizations including the American Heart Association, Children & Nature Network, Izaak Walton League of America, National Recreation and Park Association, National Wildlife Federation, The North Face, Public Lands Service Coalition (a program of The Corps Network), REI, The Wilderness Society and the YMCA of the USA that make up OAK’s leadership. 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. On behalf of all the members of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, here’s a big THANK YOU to REI for your investment in this important work!

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REI partners with OAK during Great Outdoors America Week 2014 to teach local kids how to rock climb.

Action on ECHO, OAK Education Pillar, and other news

Outdoor Alliance for Kids

OAK October 2014 Newsletter

OAK ECHO Across America Webinar

ECHO ToolkitOn October 6, OAK’s State and Local Action team lead a webinar on OAK’s ECHO (Every Child Healthy Outdoors) Across Americainitiative.  32 participants joined us for the webinar to learn about the initiative and how to utilize the ECHO Across America Toolkit.

Interested in joining OAK’s State and Local Action team to advocate for ECHO Across America? Contact Alyssa today!

Missed the webinar? A recording of the webinar is now available on OAK’s website.


Action on ECHO 

ECHO Across Albuquerque:

OAK through Conservation Legacy has teamed up with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s new urban wildlife refuge, Valle de Oro to pilot ECHO Across America in Albuquerque. US Fish & Wildlife Service provided $25,000 to support this initiative. An AmeriCorps VISTA will work full-time for one year to coordinate community efforts to facilitate activities in the ECHO Toolkit and document the lessons learned.

Boy playing tagNatural Leaders trained on ECHO Across America Toolkit:

The Children & Nature Network trained diverse, young leaders at their 3rd annual Natural Leaders Network Legacy Camp from July 20-25 at the USFW National Conservation Training Center. Three Natural Leaders from the Place Matters Project were trained to lead an ECHO assessment in their communities (Chicago, Baltimore and Cuyahoga) to discuss strategies with leaders on actions to get kids active outdoors.

ECHO Across America presented at NAAEE Conference:

Alliance for Childhood, National Wildlife Federation and North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) conducted a joint workshop on OAK and the ECHO Across America initiative at the 43rd NAAEE Conference in Ottawa, Canada. 40 participants attended the workshop to learn more on ECHO!

Thanks Alliance for Childhood, Children & Nature Network, Conservation Legacy, NAAEE,NWF, the Place Matters Project, and Valle de Oro Wildlife Refuge for helping OAK get ECHO Across America!


 OAK Education Pillar

OAK Education PillarEducation, one of OAK’s three policy pillars, supports initiatives that provide children and youth with opportunities to learn about — and in — the great outdoors. Through OAK’s education pillar goals, OAK has taken a position to support:

Learn more about OAK’s Education pillar, and contact Alyssa to join OAK’s National Policy Action Team to get involved in developing and implementing OAK’s policy priorities.


OAK Girl OutsideWarm Welcome to OAK’s Newest Members

We are delighted to share that several new members have joined OAK’s membership.

Welcome: American Forests, Discover Outdoors Foundation,Hipcamp, and Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission, Department of Parks and Recreation.


 More than S’mores   

The Girl Scouts Research Institute just released a new report, More Than S’mores: Successes and Surprises in Girl Scouts’ Outdoor Experiences (2014) that found that girl significantly benefit from time spent outdoors. The report highlights that girls who regularly spend time outdoors surpass their peers in environmental stewardship, more readily seek challenges, and are better problem solvers —all important leadership traits!

Read more about the benefit of outdoor experiences for girls.


Share your stories

OAK White House PhotoOne of the key takeaways from OAK’s Annual Membership Meeting is that members want to know more about other members events, activities, success stories and lessons learned so that we can better work together to get kids outdoors!  

OAK’s monthly newsletter, blog and social media accounts are a great way to share your organization’s experiences with getting kids outdoors with other OAK members.

Share your stories with OAK today!


OAK Upcoming Events Calendar

November 6-8, 2014 Outdoors Empowered Network’s National Summit

Is your organization hosting a conference or event that you would like featured on OAK’s event calendar? Submit your request now!


 Help Us Grow OAK

Do you know another business or organization that share’s OAK’s mission to expand the number and quality of opportunities for children, youth and families to connect with the outdoors? Encourage them to become a member and refer them to our Join OAK page!