Connecting Youth with Nature
Over one thousand fourth graders visited and learned more about the Stanislaus National Forest thanks to a grant sponsored outreach and engagement program presented by 3FIA, the Tuolumne River Trust and the Stanislaus National Forest. For many, it was their first real encounter with their public lands.
Last fall forest interpretive specialists from the Stanislaus began visiting fourth grade classrooms in Tuolumne, Mariposa, Stanislaus, and Alpine Counties presenting a hands-on wildlife program entitled, “Skins, Scat, and Skulls.” Local school environments and animals are identified in these classroom presentations to help foster awareness and appreciation of wildlife/natural resources while motivating curiosity.
The program also prepares students for a visit to the forest where activities include guided hikes, becoming a “Junior Ranger”, park volunteer cleanups, discussion of “Leave no Trace” wilderness stewardship concepts, tree planting in the affected Rim Fire area, and a discussion of renewable resources and fire safety.
Upon completion of the classroom program, students received an “Every Kid in the Park” pass good for fee-free access to all federal lands and waters, including nearby Yosemite National Park. The pass is valid for fourth grade students and their families.
The pass and transportation grant are part of a larger initiative launched by the National Park Foundation. The “Every Kid in the Park” initiative is aimed at increasing access to nature for all.
While all of the students participating in this outreach effort live approximately 10 to 50 miles from the Stanislaus Forest, many have never visited this local public treasure. Not all kids have the same opportunities to connect with nature, particularly those living in an urban setting.
“Every Kid in the Park” challenges us to think about the next 100 years. What will the future of our outdoor legacy look like if we don’t make sure all kids have a chance to experience it?
Fourth graders can get a free “Every Kid in a Park” Pass for themselves and their family online at www.everykidinapark.gov