Kids Need Parks, Parks Need Kids

Do you know any fourth graders? Do they have their Annual 4th Grade Pass yet? This pass, available to US students in the fourth grade (or its homeschool equivalent), lets kids visit more than 2,000 Federally-managed recreation areas, including national parks, for free. It’s valid for one school year and the following summer, so the 2017­–2018 pass will expire on August 31, 2018. Aimed at getting kids into nature at a time when they are primed for making connections with the world around them, this initiative encourages kids to become the future stewards of our public lands. This fee waiver, which also applies to occupants of the car with the fourth grader (hello, family trip!), makes visiting public lands a possibility for numerous children who may not have been able to afford such an experience otherwise. If you or someone you know is interested in this pass, more information can be found on the Every Kid Outdoors website.

While visiting a park, some children take part in the free NPS Junior Ranger program. After completing an educational activity booklet, kids are sworn in by a park ranger and welcomed to the NPS “family” with a certificate and badge. Many children make it a mission to collect as many Junior Ranger badges as they can! Read more about the Junior Ranger program.

WNPA provides financial aid to parks to assist with the costs of running Junior Ranger programs, such as printing booklets, ordering badges, and designing activities, ensuring children can explore, learn about, and protect national parks. This year, WNPA participated in #GivingTuesday, a global day of charitable giving following Thanksgiving. We’re happy to announce we raised over $2,500 to benefit Junior Ranger programs! James E. Cook, executive director of WNPA, says, “Our yearlong fundraising campaign is still ongoing, and we have a goal of raising $80,000 to serve 80,000 Junior Rangers. The Junior Ranger program provides important park connections to children, the next generation of public land stewards.” To donate now, please visit our donation page.