WNPA Grants - Western National Parks Association

WNPA Grants

Western National Parks Association (WNPA) has provided grants to researchers and teachers for the past three decades, supporting relevant projects that deepen public understanding and appreciation of the park’s natural, cultural, and historical landscapes, and shape future generations of park stewards. WNPA grants strengthen connections between people and parks, funding scholarly research as well as classroom projects intended to inspire a lifelong relationship to these precious resources. 

Fiscal year 2024 application cycle opens October 2, 2023. Refer to each offering for more details.

Two grants are available for this cycle: (1) James E. Cook Nature’s Classroom Grant, a newer offering for K-12 educators to bring the park to the classroom or the classroom to the park; (2) the WNPA Research Grant, our longtime research offering.

James E. Cook with green and yellow trees in background, color photograph
James E. Cook, WNPA CEO from 2011 to 2022 (courtesy Randy Spalding).

James E. Cook Nature’s Classroom Grant

To properly prepare your grant application, it is highly suggested that you download the application packet to review a copy of the application and uploads.

Before you start your application

  • Select the WNPA-affiliated park you want to collaborate with to create your experience.
  • Contact the park to obtain the name and contact information of the National Park Service staff member who will work with you to create your experience. Discuss with the park representative the type of experiences offered by the park.
  • Determine your park experience type, virtual, in-classroom or in-park.
  • Now you are ready to begin the application.


Applicants may apply for one of the following funding awards:

  • Up to $750 for a virtual classroom experience that connects the park ranger to the classroom via Zoom or another video conferencing tool.
  • Up to $750 for an in-classroom experience that brings the park ranger to the school.
  • Up to $2,000 for an in-park experience that takes the classroom to visit the park.

  • Create their experience with a WNPA-affiliated park.
  • Meet the definition of underrepresented youth: groups of individuals that have limited access to participation in outdoor recreation opportunities (e.g., hiking, biking, fishing, and skiing) or in-park interpretive/educational programs and may face barriers to participating in those activities (e.g., income, physical access, social economic factors).
  • Experiences must take place between February 22, 2024, and May 30, 2025. Funding expires May 31, 2025.

Applications must include

  • Park-themed educational component focused on environmental education/science, history, and either outdoor recreation or healthy lifestyles that will aid in fostering a new generation of park advocates. Examples
  • Park-steward element. Park stewards support ways to preserve and improve national parks for everyone. This can be an activity or educational lesson done at a park, in the classroom, or virtually. Examples
    • K-12 public, private, parochial, or home-school educators may apply.
    • More than one application per school can be submitted. Only one application per class will be accepted.

    Funding can be used toward transportation costs, program fees, park entry fees, educational component supplies, park-steward component supplies, materials for arts and crafts, scientific equipment for gathering nature-study data, and supplies for citizen-science projects; in addition, virtual classroom equipment rental fees and Zoom access, provided complimentary by WNPA if needed, supplies for pre-visit and/or post-visit activities, and other materials needed for a powerful learning experience will be considered.

    Examples: Books, maps, science kits, materials for a letter-writing campaign or posters, bulletin board supplies, journals for each student to write about their park experience, fishing gear, camping gear, iPad, LCD projector/screen rental, trail camera (with advance permission from the park), microphones, and tripods.

    Grant awardees

    • Are required to submit a final report to WNPA within 45 days of the experience date noted in the application. Refer to the application packet for a copy of the report form and required elements.
    • Will receive 95 percent of the grant award in advance, with the remaining 5 percent paid upon fulfillment of the final report requirement. Failure to meet the final report requirement within the allocated time frame will result in a forfeiture of all unpaid funds.
    • Are responsible for meeting all school and park safety and health, including but not limited to COVID-19, guidelines, and regulations.
    • Criteria for this program has been established by Western National Parks Association.
    • Submissions will be reviewed and scored by a committee comprising WNPA board members and/or the WNPA executive leadership team.
    • Recipients will be notified the week of January 22, 2024.

    WNPA fully supports diversity, equality, and inclusion. WNPA’s selection process respects all individuals and gives all applicants equal opportunity.


    • All applications must be completed through the WNPA web portal.
    • To properly prepare your submission, refer to the sample application form outlined in the grant application packet.
    • The information supplied is limited to the space provided and submitted on the electronic form.
    • Applications received in any other format will not be accepted.
    • If you do not have access to a computer and would like to submit a nomination, contact us.
    • Submissions open on October 2, 2023.
    • Deadline for submissions is December 31, 2023, end of day.

    Two national park service researchers standing in grass taking notes in a national park, with water in the background
    Courtesy of NPS

    WNPA Research Grant

    For our national parks to flourish, every generation must be able to connect with the public lands that are part of our natural and cultural heritage. Research plays a vital role in bringing the parks to the people and people to the parks.

    Since our founding in 1938, Western National Parks Association has funded scientific, historical, and social science research in national parks to help advance their management, preservation, and interpretation. For us, supporting research is more than just an extension of the efforts of our National Park Service partners; it is a means by which we help reveal and share the significant stories parks hold.

    Connect Me With a Park

    If you need assistance connecting with one of our national park partners to share your research idea, we are here to help. For help connecting with one of our national park partners, click on the “Connect Me” button below and complete the form.

    Whiskeytown National Recreation Area

    Meet our past awards, grants, and scholarships honorees.