It’s a good year to be a fourth-grader – or in the family of a fourth-grader – when it comes to visiting our nation’s national parks. President Barack Obama recently signed of his new Every Kid in a Park program, letting fourth graders and their families could discover our wildlife, resources, and history for free.
President Obama’s Every Kid in a Park initiative has officially launched, inspiring a new generation to get outside and become stewards of our nation’s cultural and natural heritage. At the program’s launch in Washington, DC, in October, more than 100 fourth-graders from Title 1 schools in the region were given passes for free entry to our public lands, waters and shores.
On hand welcoming them were 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 and Sierra Club President Aaron Mair.
“No matter who you are, no matter where you live, our parks, our monuments, our lands, our waters — these places are your birthright as Americans,” Obama said in the address. “Our country is full of dazzling landscapes where you can play and learn. They protect our wildlife and resources. They let us look into the past and protect our history. Keeping them public supports a healthy planet.”
Participating agencies in the program include:
• U.S. Bureau of Land Management
• U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
• National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
• National Park Service
• U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
• U.S. Forest Service
• U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
How the prgram works: You need to print your pass from www.everykidinapark.gov and bring it with you when you visit (electronic copies aren’t accepted). Each pass has a unique code, meaning you can’t copy it and give it to friends. Encourage your friends to get their own pass if they’re in the fourth grade.
America’s National Park System has 408 units, ranging from world-renowned destinations to small historic sites. Visitation is up 3.66 percent from 2014 levels, with 8.7 million more visits for the year to date. Key to this rise, say experts is the National Park Service’s first major promotional campaign in 50 years – Find Your Park – as well as the Every Kid in a Park initiative, aimed at providing four million fourth graders and their guests an experience on public lands and waters throughout the school year.
Collectively, America’s State Parks hosted more than 740 million visitors in 2014, an increase of more than 12 million from the preceding year.