A lesson on how to get school kids into state parks

A pilot project brought fifth graders from Durham to Eno River State Park last spring.
A pilot project brought fifth graders from Durham to Eno River State Park last spring.

(This post was prepared with the help of Jim Richardson and Friends of State Parks.)

Fewer and fewer youngsters are able to make a field trip to a state park during their early school years, even parks close by their schools. There are many educational pressures that contribute to this, but a survey of more than 800 teachers by the state Office of Environmental Education revealed that a lack of funds is the principle reason.

When invited, park rangers will eagerly take interpretive programs into classrooms, but there’s no good substitute for a walk with a ranger on the trail and the outdoor experience of a state park. Valuable lessons and often a life-long love of nature and conservation can begin that way.

Friends of State Parks (FSP) is tackling this issue at a basic level with its YIP-EE program (Youth in Parks-Environmental Education) that makes mini-grants to any park friends group willing to work with local public schools to get kids outdoors. The grants provide up to $400 to pay for transportation and healthy snacks (the ranger programs are always free). The funds come from a memorial fund in the name of John E. Graham, a beloved former FSP stalwart.

Last April, FSP began its effort with a pilot program involving Eno River State Park, the Eno River Association and Lakewood Elementary School, an inner-city school in Durham. The effort brought groups of fifth graders into the park for a day of exploration and discovery. Most recently, such a grant was awarded to Friends of Gorges and Brevard Middle School. As a result, 200 seventh graders will soon visit Gorges State Park for an exciting “Survival Day” program.

Read more about the innovative program and about how to contribute here.

One thought on “A lesson on how to get school kids into state parks

  1. Pingback: A lesson on how to get school kids into state parks | E.E. Academy

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