“There is nothing so American as our national parks … The fundamental idea behind the parks … is that the country belongs to the people, that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us,” President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, according to the National Park Service.
In the U.S. alone, there are 423 national park sites that span across more than 84 million acres of gorgeous, natural, and protected land. Each state has a national park. There are also parks on U.S. territories like Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
This protected land allow us to hold onto the beauty that exists all over American soil.
Americans Support National Park Field Trips
Every day, millions visit national parks all over the country. Now, more and more Americans agree that field trips to national parks should be a key part of early education. Most Americans are within 100 miles of one of these parks.
According to PR Newswire, the National Park Foundation found that 85% of U.S. adults think national parks should become dynamic classrooms for children trying to learn about nature and the outdoors. Additionally, 70% of adults think that these parks should play a key part in inspiring children to be avid learners.
Also, 77% advocate for more field trips and educational experiences at national parks. Beyond being the protectors of national parks, NPS sponsors essential educational programs. This includes more than 60,000 educational programs both in parks and from a distance. NPS has served more than 1.8 million students and can possibly reach more.
NPF has several programs in place that have already helped countless kids experience the outdoors. This includes Open OutDoors for Kids, a Youth Education and Engagement initiative.
There are also 70% of adults that want one million children to be connected to these parks over the course of the next four years. The main takeaway is that children can learn a lot from national parks and should be given the resources to do so.
NPS Educational Opportunities for Youth
Union Pacific, a large supporter of Open OutDoors for Kids, has helped thousands of students get these national park experiences. As of now, the program only operates in 23 states, however. This program has a specific focus on children living in communities with a lack of resources. Two-thirds of the students that Open OutDoors helps are seeing a national park for the first time.
According to the Open OutDoors page on the NPF site, people passionate about outdoor education can donate. A $10 donation can open up one opportunity for a child.
Beyond just providing educational experiences, taking children to these parks can be important to the country’s future. By passing along the wonders and excitements of parks, the next generation will feel prideful and protective over the safety of the land.
This is not a new concept, either.
According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, programs introducing families and young people to the parks have been a priority since the establishment of NPS in 1916. For example, the Yosemite Junior Nature School was started in 1930. In 1960, the National Environmental Education Development was created to help bring kids to nature.
Now, over 400 sites and counting provide educational experiences for young visitors.