FROM PRESS RELEASE
In today’s increasingly digital society, the need to educate children on the importance of connecting with nature is apparent, especially in underserved, low-income areas where there aren’t a lot of opportunities for kids to explore the natural world around them. That’s why the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) has selected these four park and recreation agencies to receive funding for its new Wildlife Explorer’s program:
- Omaha Parks and Recreation, Omaha, Neb.
- City of Tukwila Parks and Recreation, Tukwila, Wash.
- Mooresville Parks & Recreation Department, Mooresville, N.C.
- Augusta Recreation and Parks, Augusta, Ga.
Wildlife Explorers, which aims to reach 200,000 children over the next three years, encourages hands-on learning outdoors and inspires children ages 5–10 to explore nature in their local parks. The program leverages existing out-of-school programming happening at local park and recreation centers and was designed to be implemented in any outdoor space and by anyone regardless of their experience facilitating environmental or conservation programming.
“At NRPA we are proud to help support the nation’s next generation of environmental advocates,” said Lori Robertson, NRPA Director of Conservation. “Parks everywhere play an important role in helping children discover the wonders of nature. Now, through this grant, children who’ve never had the opportunity to explore nature will be able to do so right in their own communities.”
The Wildlife Explorers program includes a six chapter curriculum framework that was developed by NRPA in partnership with National Wildlife Federation and Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and culminates with an environmental action project that allows students to address a local environmental challenge facing their community. For example, participants may plant stream buffers or construct rain gardens to support improved watershed health or plant trees to improve water and air quality. The grant funding, provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will be used to help agencies pay for the action project and program supplies.
According to a 2013 survey conducted by the National Environmental Education Foundation, the majority of Americans consider parks to be a trusted source of environmental information. Forty-three percent of park and recreation agencies provide dedicated environmental education during out-of-school time.
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