NEARLY 3 million dollars IN GRANTS WILL SUPPORT PROGRAMS THAT COMBINE PERSONAL, VIRTUAL AND HYBRID PARKING EXPERIENCES FOR STUDENTS ACROSS THE COUNTRY
WASHINGTON, November 22, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The National Park Foundation (NPF) is pleased to announce funding of 84 new Open OutDoors for Kids grants focused on using technology to connect more children and classrooms with meaningful learning experiences, provided by parks. The funding will support innovative educational programs in national parks across the country that integrate virtual and ranger-led experiences in the park.
“National Parks are America’s largest classrooms, offering new and expanded learning opportunities for students,” said President and CEO of the National Park Foundation Will Shafroth. “Open OutDoors for Kids grantees are pioneering the ways in which kids and classrooms can connect with national parks and experience—both in person and virtually—the wonders and complexities of nature and history.”
Open OutDoors for Kids grants will help meet increasing demand for popular virtual and hybrid programs by offering unique educational activities that connect kids to parks across the country.
“Each national park is tied to a part of our national identity, and park education programs bring history, civics, science and the arts to life for students,” said the National Park Service Director Chuck Sam’s. “The increase in virtual field trip opportunities provided by these grants will enable teachers and students across the country to travel to national parks, regardless of location, for engaging and inspiring curriculum-based programs.”
This school year, NPF is working with the National Park Service and other community partners to expand opportunities for students to explore parklands and historic sites, and connect children to the many diverse stories our national parks preserve and share. A selection of programs supported by NPF grants include:
- Jimmy Carter National Historical Park (Georgia) – Thanks to this scholarship, the students will learn about Rosalynn Carters Role in the mental health advocacy group during her tenure as First Lady of Georgia and First Lady of The United States. Students receive in-person or virtual classes from park staff, followed by a visit to the gardens of Jimmy Carter’s Boyhood Farm to learn about the physical and mental benefits of gardening and being outdoors.
- Golden Gate National Recreation Area (California) – That Rock! Sample! systems! The educational program offers a hybrid learning and optional distance learning experience for students. The hybrid learning experience includes three pre-recorded videos as part of a pre-lesson plan to prepare learners for a live, interactive experience with park rangers. A new trilingual introductory video in English, Spanish and Cantonese will stimulate students’ curiosity by providing an insight into nature including dramatic cliffs, spectacular sea views, native habitats, wildlife and geology.
- Homestead National Historical Park (Nebraska) – Working with tribal partners, the Spirit Lake Dakota Tribes and the Pawnee Nation, park staff will develop on-site and distance learning sessions on the history and enduring effects of the Dawes Act of 1887, as well as a more complete historical account of the Homestead Act . These educational programs encourage broader historical interpretation and a deeper understanding of the reality of Native American dispossession during America’s westward expansion.
- Voyageurs National Park (Minnesota) – The park and its official local non-profit partner, Voyageurs Conservancy, will expand the Dark Sky Classroom program. New funding will increase staff capacity for the Dark Sky Classroom and field trip experiences in the park, and increase student engagement. The project will encourage students to see the national park as an outdoor classroom and a welcoming place for families to deepen connections.
Thanks to partners and donors, NPF invests almost 3 million dollars in its Open OutDoors for Kids program in fiscal year 2023, including support from Youth Engagement and Education’s lead partner, Union Pacific Railroad.
“Union Pacific is proud to connect young people with the historical and cultural treasures of our national parks,” he said Scott Moore, Senior Vice President, Corporate Relations, and Chief Administrative Officer at Union Pacific. “Open OutDoors for Kids provides children with a hands-on learning experience in the great outdoors, giving them a deeper understanding of our country’s rich history and natural beauty that encourages exploration and appreciation of the natural world.”
Additional funding is provided by Alicia and Peter PondColumbia Sportswear, Sierra, Parks Project, Humana, The Batchelor Foundation, Inc. and many other donors.
Open OutDoors for Kids, part of NPF’s Youth Engagement and Education initiative, makes park education experiences more accessible to all people, with a special focus on children living in communities striving to overcome lack of resources to provide students with innovative learning opportunities to offer .I
Since 2011, NPF has engaged more than one million students in educational programs that connect them to national parks across the country, with a goal to connect an additional one million students to parks by the end of the 2024-25 school year.
View the full list of NPF Open OutDoors for Kids Scholarship Projects for the 2022-2023 School Year.
Individuals, foundations, and corporations can support NPF’s Open OutDoors for Kids program by visiting the National Park Foundation website.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION
The National Park Foundation works to protect wildlife and parklands, preserve history and culture, educate and engage youth, and connect people everywhere to the wonders of the parks. We do this in partnership with the National Park Service, the park partner community, and with the generous support of donors without whom our work would not be possible. Learn more at nationalparks.org.
I The bulk of the funding for this program supports fourth grade students in Title I schools. These schools receive financial support through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to ensure students have the resources to meet academic standards. Nationwide, school districts in high-poverty communities have the highest total Title I allocations per eligible student. Schools in these communities may have fewer resources to include national parks and outdoor education in their students’ curriculum.
SOURCE National Park Foundation