YOSEMITE — Yosemite National Park encourages all fourth graders to visit the park for free this year as part of the Every Kid in a Park (EKIP) program.
The program gives fourth grade students, and those accompanying them, free access to more than 2,000 federally managed lands and waters. Visit www.EveryKidinaPark.gov to download the pass and obtain more information.
“We are thrilled that the Every Kid in a Park program has been extended,” says Yosemite National Park Superintendent Don Neubacher. “Every fourth grader from Merced City School District came up this spring and we distributed over 1,300 EKIP passes; most of these kids had never been to Yosemite. It was a great honor when President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama visited a Ranger program and gave each kid their own EKIP pass during their visit here in June.”
Fourth graders and their families are encouraged to experience Yosemite National Park, which offers a wide range of activities for families including hiking, Ranger-led programs, backpacking, camping, and iconic views of natural features including El Capitan and Half Dome. Last year, Yosemite National Park issued over 7,000 EKIP passes to fourth grade students visiting the park.
Yosemite National Park was selected to receive a 2016 field trip grant from the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, to support the Every Kid in a Park program. The grant is part of the Foundation’s OpenOutDoors for Kids Program, and supports student Rangers from The UC Merced Wilderness Education Center to bring fourth graders from the Merced City School District to Yosemite.
This program is an example of the strong partnership between Yosemite National Park and UC Merced. The student Rangers provide general visitor education and formal programs to UC students and schools throughout the central valley. Through the Every Kid in a Park program, the student Rangers help teach every fourth grader in the Merced City School District about Yosemite and how to be one of its stewards.
“These grants are planting the seeds for lifelong relationships with national parks and their programs,” said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation. “By providing access to transformative experiences like listening to the sound of birds chirping, walking the halls of a school that tell a civil rights story, looking up at a dark night sky, or pitching a tent with a friend for the first time, these children are forever impacted. We appreciate the power of national parks and, through our support, the National Park Foundation hopes to share them with as many kids as possible.”
The Every Kid in a Park pass – which features a new design for this year’s students – is valid for a full calendar year starting Sept. 1. The pass grants free entry for fourth graders and up to three accompanying adults (or an entire car for drive-in parks) to most federally managed lands and waters, including national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and marine sanctuaries.
The newly expanded Every Kid in a Park website has links to educational activities, trip planning, field trip options, the downloadable pass, and additional information in both English and Spanish. After completing a fun educational activity, the child can download and print a pass. The paper pass can be traded for a more durable pass at participating federal sites nationwide.
“Every Kid in a Park is part of President Obama’s commitment to protect our nation’s unique outdoor spaces and ensure that every American has the opportunity to visit and enjoy them,” says the NPS. “The program, now entering its second year, is a call to action for children to experience America’s spectacular outdoors, rich history and culture.
“Every Kid in a Park is a crucial component 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 Every Kid in a Park program is an Administration-wide effort between the Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of the Army, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The program continues each year with the then-current group of fourth graders. After 12 years, every school-age child in America will have had an opportunity to visit their public land and waters for free, inspiring the next generation to be stewards of our nation’s shared natural and cultural heritage.
For additional information about Yosemite National Park, please visit www.nps.gov/yose.