According to a USA Today article released last week, President Obama has announced that “The National Park Service will give all fourth graders and their families free admission to national parks and other federal lands for a full year.
The Every Kid in a Park initiative is part of an effort to get schoolchildren outdoors and more active. It will start in the school year that begins next fall, which coincides with the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service in 2016.
Family admission to national parks usually costs $80 for an annual pass, but fourth graders and their families will be able to get a free pass that will give them admission to national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and other federal public lands and waters, according to a White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity to allow the president to make the announcement… The cost of the free passes for fourth graders will come out of a $20 million National Park Service budget for youth engagement programs. With the help of the National Parks Foundation, the Park Service will also provide grants for free transportation for schools that need it, and educational materials for teachers.”
The National Park Service has an excellent website for those wanting to explore and plan. The site is easy to use, and you can quickly search for National Parks in your state and gain access to complete information, photos, fees and hours, as well as a “Features” section for each park giving additional information such as events, geological info, and even virtual tours on some parks. This is a fun and very useful tool for planning your next family vacation. The website has also started a fun and educational group for kids of all ages! The Webrangers is an extension of the Junior Ranger program, and according to the page, “If you love our National Parks, Monuments and Historic Sites, this site is for you. If you are new to our National Parks, we hope this site helps you experience how wonderful they can be. We’ve recently updated this site to make it even more fun. You can now customize you Ranger Station, earn more rewards, and play new activities! “. The Webrangers page allows children to create their own “Ranger Station”, play different games such as helping match dinosaurs with their dinners, and help a fish swim home safely. Kids can earn rewards and badges, share photos and stories, and much more and parents can be rest assured that it is a safe web experience. So, if you’re beginning to plan out your family’s summer vacation, make a stop by the National Park Service’s website and be sure to include these natural treasures into your trip whenever possible. This land is your land!