ST. JOHN, U.S. Virgin Islands—As part of the Obama Administration’s Every Kid in a Park initiative, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today joined fourth graders from the Julius E. Sprauve elementary school in a visit to the Cinnamon Bay Archeology Lab in Virgin Islands National Park on St. John to announce important funding launching the Every Kid in a Park program in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI).
The Every Kid in a Park initiative is part of an overall strategy to connect young people to the outdoors. The program allows fourth graders nationwide to go to www.everykidinapark.gov and obtain a pass for free entry for them and their families to more than 2,000 federally managed lands and waters nationwide—including in the USVI—for an entire year, starting September 1, 2015.
Jewell, Virgin Islands National Park Superintendent Brion FitzGerald, and Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Esther Kia’aina presented the students with their Every Kid in a Park passes. The Secretary and the 4th graders also participated in educational activities, including a ‘Touch the Past’ field trip that incorporated a hike through the Cinnamon Bay Nature Loop and a hands-on discovery activity to sort artifacts found in the park that help tell the story of the people of the Virgin Islands.
The secretary also announced a $25,000 grant to cover transportation costs for the 600 fourth graders in USVI public schools on St. Thomas and St. John to enjoy a day in the park at any USVI National Park location.
“The students visiting Virgin Islands National Park today with their Every Kid in a Park passes learned about local natural resources, history and culture while enjoying one of our nation’s most beautiful aquatic and coral reef 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 USVI students—have the tools they need to understand the importance of the natural and cultural resources in their own backyard and beyond.”
“I am delighted that we can help facilitate introducing the youth of the Virgin Islands to the National Park system. Bringing youth into the parks at an early age creates an appreciation of the outdoors and wild places,” said Brion FitzGerald, superintendent of Virgin Islands National Park
The $25,000 grant, provided by Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs through its Technical Assistance Program, will be directed to the Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park over the next year to launch the Every Kid in a Park Program on the USVI. Programming will take place in Virgin Islands National Park and Virgin Island Coral Reef National Monument locations on St. John, and on Hassel Island in Charlotte Amalie Harbor in St. Thomas. The funding will cover the logistical support required to provide each 4th grader a one-time trip to a park or monument location of their choice, including boat transportation to Hassel Islands as well as taxi and ferry charges related to St. John and St. Thomas excursions.
Every Kid in a Park recognizes the role of national parks as a premier provider of place-based education. U.S. Virgin Islands National Park offers a variety of natural and cultural curriculum-based educational opportunities, including field trips and park ranger visits to classrooms. The website www.nps.gov/history/teachers 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 www.everykidinapark.gov 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 in their backyards and beyond, 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 the Obama Administration’s overall efforts to engage young people from all ages and all backgrounds in 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, Interior’s leadership of 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. These initiatives also complement the National Park Service’s Find Your Park campaign celebrating this year’s centennial of the National Park System. (PR)