With young people spending more time in front of screens and not getting outdoors enough, the Obama Administration announced last week that every fourth grader in the United Sates will be given a free one-year family pass to America’s National Parks.

Next September every fourth-grader in the nation will receive an “Every Kid in a Park” pass that’s good for free admission to all of America’s federal lands and waters — for them and their families — for a full year. The free annual pass is valued at $80, and includes admission to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites, including Yosemite, Yellowstone and Grand Canyon national parks.

“Because we know that a big reason many kids don’t visit these places is that they can’t get there easily, we will also help schools and families arrange field trips and visits by providing key trip-planning tools and helping to cover transportation costs for schools with the greatest financial need,” said a White House release.African-Elephant-herd-CC-VaughanLeiberum

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For example, the non-profit National Park Foundation is expanding its program of granting transportation money for kids to visit parks, lands, and waters.  Over the last three years, the Foundation grants have made it possible for more than 200,000 students to visit their national parks.

These grants have transported classrooms of kids to the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument and the Santa Fe National Historical Trail for live, on-site history lessons.

Many Americans are unaware that besides the beautiful lakes, mountains and ancient forests, the country’s national parks include many historic buildings, battlefields, and cultural artifacts. To take advantage of these as teaching tools, the National Park Service is revising its education portal to feature more than 1,000 materials developed for K-12 teachers, including science labs, lesson plans, and field trip guides.

“With this kind of support, we can help our children become lifelong learners — both inside and outside the classroom.”

NPS has not replied to our email asking whether the passes will be available to homeschooling families.

Photo from National Park Foundation

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