Photo Courtesy of WikiCommons
By Julie Giyer
Kern Valley Sun
Collaborations between the Department of the Interior, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Forrest Service have been made allowing fourth grade students a free pass to visit more than 2,000 federally funded recreational areas.
The Every Kid Outdoors program replaced the Every Kid in a Park program in 2015. It provides fourth graders with free access to explore outdoor settings such as forests, marine sanctuaries, wildlife refuges, and national parks. They can visit with family, friends, or on class trips. This program focuses on children at 10 years of age-based on research that indicates they are at a unique developmental stage in their learning. By focusing on this age group, the programs focus is to ensure that every child in the United States has the opportunity to visit their Federal Lands and waters. It allows them to establish a lifelong connection to the outdoors and protects American Outdoor Heritage.
There are seven federal agencies participating in the program: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation Management and Recreation Act was signed into law by President Trump on March 12, 2019. This act authorizes the funding for the Every Kids Outdoors program for the next seven years.
To obtain a free pass for this program, fourth grade students must visit the Every Kid Outdoors Website and participate in a short educational activity. They can then download a voucher. The voucher is valid between September 1, 2019 through August 31, 2020 and has unlimited uses. It can also be exchanged for a keepsake pass. The voucher or pass allows up to 3 accompanying adults and all children under 16 in the group, along with the fourth grade student. The pass does not cover fees such as camping or boat rides.