Secretary Jewell Celebrates Every Kid in a Park with Native Students

Visit to Saguaro National Park in Arizona supports Obama Administration initiative to connect next generation to the great outdoors 

Last edited 09/29/2021

                       Date: November 18, 2015
        Contacts: Jessica Kershaw (Interior),
Andy Fisher (National Park Service), 

TUCSON, Ariz. – As part of the Obama Administration’s Every Kid in a Park initiative, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today visited Saguaro National Park with a class of about 25 Native students from Santa Rosa Ranch School – funded by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) – at the Tohono O'odham Nation. Announced by President Obama earlier this year, the program connects the next generation to the great outdoors by providing free passes to fourth-grade students and their families at more than 2,000 federally managed lands and waters, including national parks, wildlife refuges, and national forests and grasslands.

Secretary Jewell and Bureau of Indian Education Director Dr. Charles ‘Monty’ Roessel presented the students with their passes and participated in educational activities, including building petroglyphs out of clay. 

“The students visiting Saguaro National Park today with their Every Kid in a Park passes learned about local history and culture while enjoying one of our nation’s most majestic desert parks,” said Secretary Jewell. “Using our public lands as living classrooms is one of the ways the Obama Administration is working to ensure all students, including Native students, have the tools they need for a bright future.”

“Because these learning activities are aligned with Arizona state academic standards, not only can these learning activities be used to introduce fourth graders to topics surrounding federal lands and waters, they will also help to ensure that our students are college and career ready,” said Principal Delbert Ortiz from Santa Rosa Ranch School. 

Every Kid in a Park recognizes the role of national parks as a premier provider of place-based education. Saguaro National Park offers a variety of natural and cultural curriculum-based educational opportunities, including field trips and park ranger visits to classrooms. Schools can request traveling trunks for their classrooms on subjects like the iconic saguaro cactus, desert mammals, and the Hohokam people. Lessons – including today’s petroglyph activity – adhere to Common Core standards, which the Obama Administration supports as a nationwide benchmark of excellence. 

The National Park Service works with various partners and educational institutions to expand programs and encourage the use of parks as places of learning. The website contains lesson plans and content on more than 125 subjects, ranging from archeology to biology to Constitutional law. 

Fourth graders, their parents and educators can log onto the website at and complete a fun educational activity in order to obtain and print a paper pass. Students may also trade in their paper pass for a more durable pass at participating federal sites nationwide.

The Every Kid in a Park program furthers President Obama’s commitment to protect our nation’s unique outdoor spaces and provide every American with opportunities to visit and enjoy them. By introducing fourth graders to public lands, near and far, the program delivers a nationwide call to action to build the next generation of stewards of our country’s spectacular and diverse federal lands and waters.

The program is part of an overall strategy by the Obama Administration to engage young people from all ages and all backgrounds with the great outdoors. This includes the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps, a bold national effort to put thousands of young people and veterans to work protecting, restoring and enhancing America’s public lands and waters. In addition, First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Outside initiative is committed to getting millions of young people to play, learn, serve and work in America’s great outdoors, and Tucson is one of 50 cities nationwide identified as part of this program. In partnership with American Express and the YMCA, the program works closely with the Arizona Conservation Corps to increase volunteerism in the local community. 

Moreover, Saguaro National Park is one of only two parks in the entire Western United States selected to participate in the NPS Urban Agenda. This pilot program, created after gathering two years of input from stakeholders, seeks to better connect national parks to their communities in 10 metropolitan areas. The 10 cities include Tucson, AZ; Boston, MA; New York City, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Detroit, MI; Washington, DC; Jacksonville, FL; St. Louis, MO; Richmond, VA; and Richmond, CA. 

The BIE oversees 183 elementary and secondary schools, located on 64 reservations in 23 states, serving more than 48,000 students. Of these, 59 are BIE-operated and 124 are tribally operated under Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act contracts or Tribally Controlled Schools Act grants. The BIE also funds or operates off-reservation boarding schools and peripheral dormitories near reservations for students attending public schools.

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