Secretary Jewell, Google Announce Donation to Connect Kids to National Parks

Let’s Move! Outside Campout Part of Nationwide Movement Inspiring Youth to Play, Learn, Serve and Work on Public Lands

Last edited 09/29/2021

KIRKLAND, Wash.  – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today joined Google Executive Eric Young to announce Google’s $165,000 donation to the National Park Foundation’s Open OutDoors for Kids program. The donation to the National Park Foundation (NPF) – the official nonprofit partner of the National Park Service – helps support the Every Kid in a Park initiative and will fund transportation grants for approximately 1,700 underserved children to visit national parks and participate in multi-day environmental education programs. 

U.S. Representative Suzan DelBene and City of Kirkland Deputy Mayor Jay Arnold joined Secretary Jewell for the announcement, which was made at a first-of-its-kind campout on the Cross Kirkland Corridor near Google’s Kirkland Campus with 60 children from the greater Seattle area.

The U.S. Department of the Interior is leading First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Outside initiative to inspire millions of young people to play, learn, serve and work in the great outdoors. In partnership with the YMCA of Greater Seattle, the kids participated in an afternoon of fun, educational outdoor activities like searching for bugs and animal tracks and learning about endangered species and volcanoes. Partners hosted activity stations including Google, NatureBridge, Pacific Science Center, Woodland Park Zoo, and Interior’s National Park Service and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The REI Outdoor School supplied and set up camping gear for an overnight camp experience, and members of the Tulalip Tribes led an evening activity around a campfire, highlighting the culture and history of Coast Salish Indigenous people.

“On behalf of Interior, I want to thank Google for their generous donation to help fourth graders from disadvantaged communities experience the great outdoors,” said Secretary Jewell.  “Spending a day and night on the Cross Kirkland Corridor for these youngsters is a reminder that there are accessible public lands close by every community that enable family, friends and kids of all ages to enjoy nature. Experiences like we’re having today not only provide meaningful learning opportunities, but also plant seeds that will nurture future generations of outdoor stewards.” 

The National Park Foundation’s Open OutDoors for Kids program also supports the White House’s Every Kid in a Park initiative by raising funds to help connect fourth graders to national parks. Now in its second year, the Every Kid in a Park program allows fourth graders nationwide to go to and obtain a pass for free entry for them and their families to more than 2,000 federally managed lands and waters nationwide for an entire year. Since the program’s inception, transportation costs have been paid for nearly half a million fourth graders across the country to attend Every Kid in a Park fieldtrips through a combination of philanthropic support and existing federal funding.

“We’re delighted to announce support for the Open OutDoors for Kids initiative today with a campout complete with a campfire,” said Darcy Nothnagle, Google’s head of external affairs, NW. “Google has always made it a priority to help students discover the world – one way is through technology like Google Expeditions that allow students to travel the world in virtual reality. This grant is the next step, helping students visit parks in person to experience the outdoors throughout the country.”

“National parks are gateways to self-discovery and experiential learning and Open OutDoors for Kids gives youth from across the country the chance to connect with these powerful places,” said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation. “Visionary philanthropic partners like Google make it possible for kids to experience first-hand how enjoyable parks can be throughout their lives.”

The Google Field Trip Days grant to NPF’s Open OutDoors for Kids will support the participation of approximately 1,700 underserved students at national park sites in the coming school year. 

Those national parks include:

  • Yosemite National Park: Approximately 400 students will attend multi-day NatureBridge environmental science programs 
  • Golden Gate National Recreational Area, Olympic National Park, and Prince William Forest Park: Approximately 200 students will enjoy multi-day experiences at each park
  • Southern California, in partnership with NatureBridge: Approximately 150 students will visit Southern California national parks
  • Cuyahoga Valley National Park: Funding will be coupled with Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley support for approximately 250 students to attend All the Rivers Run, a STEM-based residential learning program at the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center
  • Grand Teton National Park: 100-200 students will attend Teton Science School programming in late 2016/early 2017. Efforts will be made to connect an entire grade from the Idaho public school system with the park through multi-day environmental science programming
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park: 150 students will attend Tremont Institute outdoor education programming, providing personal, local, and relevant programming that allow youth to live and learn inside the park

By introducing fourth graders to public lands in their backyards and beyond at an impressionable age, Every Kid in a Park is part of a multi-pronged approach to inspire the next generation to discover all that our nation’s public lands and waters have to offer, including opportunities to be active, spend time with friends and family, and serve as living classrooms to build critical skills. 

The program will continue each year with the new class of fourth graders. After 12 years, every school-age child in America will have had an opportunity to visit their public lands and waters for free, inspiring the next generation to be stewards of our nation’s shared natural and cultural heritage. The program is an Administration-wide effort between the Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of the Army, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of Education.

Every Kid in a Park is part of an overall strategy by the Obama Administration to engage young people from all ages and all backgrounds in the great outdoors, which includes the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps and the First Lady’s Let’s Move! Outside initiative. These complement the National Park Service’s Find Your Park campaign celebrating this year’s centennial of the National Park System.  

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