August 2015

New Program Encourages More Kids to Visit Parks

Family hiking in the Grand Tetons of WyomingFamily hiking in the Grand Tetons of Wyoming

Family hiking in the Grand Tetons of Wyoming
A family hikes through Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park.

Fourth graders across the United States are being offered a special opportunity for the 2015–2016 school year. President Barack Obama has started a program called “Every Kid in a Park” that will provide them with free annual, or yearly, passes to visit parks and other sites managed by the National Park Service (NPS). These passes will also include free admission for each fourth-grade student’s entire family. Students who sign up for the program will be able to get into more than 2,000 sites for free. These include world-famous national parks, such as Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon.

The “Every Kid in a Park” program was created to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of the NPS. It is also part of an effort to encourage more kids to be active outdoors. Many adults worry that kids spend too much time in front of television and computer screens and not enough time playing outside. The hope is that by giving these passes to fourth graders, it will inspire them to develop a lifelong interest in nature. The NPS’s many historical sites can also help encourage their interest in America’s history.

Fourth graders will have the chance to visit some of the new national monuments that President Obama has recently created. In February 2015, when President Obama first announced the “Every Kid in a Park” program, he also declared some new public lands. These included the Pullman National Monument in Chicago, Illinois; Browns Canyon National Monument in Colorado; and Honouliuli National Monument in Hawaii. In July, President Obama declared three more areas as national monuments—California’s Berryessa Snow Mountain, Nevada’s Basin and Range landscape, and Texas’s Waco Mammoth site.

The cost of the free park passes will be paid for out of the NPS budget for youth engagement programs. The NPS will also help schools arrange field trips and help pay for transportation, if necessary. In addition, the NPS will provide educational materials for teachers. The hope is that fourth graders, their teachers, and families will get outdoors and visit some of America’s most amazing places!

Image credit: ©Cheyenne Rouse/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

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Question 1
Who is being offered free national park passes for the 2015–2016 school year?

Question 2
Which new national monument is near Chicago, Illinois?

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