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Every Kid in a Park

Erica Beck Spencer, FOSS Curriculum Specialist, Lawrence Hall of Science
September 22, 2015 | Science News

In the spring of 2015, the White House released the Every Kid in a Park initiative, which seems like a natural extension of Let's Move (Michelle Obama's initiative to get kids more physically active). Starting in September of 2015, all fourth-grade students and their families will receive free admission to all federal lands and waters for the entire year. This is great for families, as well as fourth-grade teachers. In addition, the National Park Service (NPS) will be expanding its services to award transportation grants for visits. President Obama has requested $20 million in new funding specifically provided to the NPS for youth activities in his 2016 budget. It is not yet clear how this money will be disseminated or how teachers and parents can request funding, but it is clear that this is a priority for the Obama initiative.

Walkway through trees

Acadia National Park

In addition to being important for the health and wellness of children, this initiative is touted as part of President Obama's commitment to protect our national treasures. In 2016, the NPS will celebrate its 100th birthday. Free admission, helping to make it easier for schools and families to plan trips, providing transportation to support schools, and providing educational materials to support a wide range of educational programs are all part of this Every Kid in a Park initiative. These measures are important to ensure that the parks are protected and adored for generations to come.

To encourage exploration by students at all grade levels, many parks have academic waivers for academic exploration and have forms that can be filled out prior to the experience to grant free access. Some parks' websites make these easy to find, but it is always worth asking.

Here's hoping that bus loads of fourth graders go on field trips to explore the soils, rocks, and landforms of Acadia National Park, to discover the environment of Yosemite National Park, and even to explore the importance of energy in America's first planned industrial town which is memorialized at Pullman National Monument in Illinois. Leave your wallets at home (not really, you might need your identification) and get your fourth graders to one of our country's finest treasures!

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Top of page: Fourth-grade students and their families receive free admission to federal lands and waters for an entire year!