National Park Foundation Provides Grants To Support NPS Education Programs During COVID-19 Pandemic And Beyond

Rangers Engage Students in Blended Learning Program in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Photo credit: NPS

32 parks receive funding to pilot blended learning with students

April 26, 2021 – WASHINGTON – Students across the country will be able to experience national parks in new and exciting ways, thanks to the National Park Foundation (NPF) Open OutDoors for Kids Hybrid Learning Grants program. NPF provides grants to 32 National Park Service (NPS) sites and their partners to implement or enhance innovative distance learning programs to better serve educators and students, especially in underfunded communities .

“National parks are America’s largest classrooms, and the National Park Foundation is committed to helping students, teachers and families navigate learning during the pandemic and beyond,” said National Park Foundation President and CEO Will Shafroth. “From green time to screen time to family time, the National Park Foundation helps the National Park Service and the parks community engage students with educational opportunities across the country.”

With more than 400 parks in the fifty states and territories of the United States, the NPS traditionally hosts more than 60,000 park and distance education programs each year, serving more than 1.8 million students.

“The traditional classroom trip to a national park has been affected by the pandemic and the National Park Service is reorienting its approach to engage students in curriculum-based learning using new and innovative methods.” said Shawn Benge, deputy director of the National Park Service. “We are grateful to the National Park Foundation for its support in meeting the challenges of this time in a way that will also serve educators and students in the years to come.”

Recognizing that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way and place of student learning, FNP collaborated with NPS to host a program design workshop in September 2020 with leading experts in assessment, digital programming , community engagement and leadership of national parks. The aim is to provide guidance on how NPF and NPS can meet the needs of students, teachers, schools and communities in these uncertain times and how the lessons learned can be applied in the long term. The workshop led to the Open OutDoors for Kids blended learning program, an extension of NPF’s Open OutDoors for Kids Field Trip program.

The hybrid design and a holistic approach to distance learning, which includes non-internet and internet-based elements, are among the most critical aspects of the program. The design of tools and programs developed over the past year will continue beyond the pandemic.

At Big Hole National Battlefield in Montana, park staff will work with the Colville, Nez Perce and Umatilla tribes to share larger stories through distance learning activities, including pre-recorded virtual tours and presentations by cultural demonstrators that extend engagement with neighboring communities.

“The Big Hole National Battlefield is keen to provide students, regardless of their location, with a virtual space to learn more about the history of such a culturally significant site,” said Acting Park Superintendent Ashley Adams. “The National Park Foundation grant strengthens the park’s commitment to quality education programs and collaboration with partners.”

In Florida, the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument and the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind are co-creating curriculum-based 3D products that will complement a series of lesson plans, ranger videos, and hands-on activities that bring digitally elements of place. student-based learning.

At the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument in Washington, DC, Teaching Hard History consultants will engage students with larger stories from across the park’s collections, including the experiences and contributions of black women who have fought for the law. vote and continued the struggle for civilization. rights and full equality.

In California, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Education Team engages K-8 children with school-based virtual programs that introduce students to national parks, teach them about bears and bats. smile and provide opportunities to learn more about the Kaweah and Kings River watershed.

The New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park in Louisiana will partner with the New Orleans Jazz Museum to enhance their existing excursion programs that connect young people in innovative ways to the city’s musical culture and the foundations of American jazz.

For a full list of fellows and projects, visit the NPF website.

“The goal of the OutDoors for Kids hybrid learning program is to support parks in a range of capacities, from brand new parks to distance learning to those looking to extend existing hybrid programming,” said LaTresse Snead, program manager for the National Park Foundation. “As an essential element of the program, guiding principles that help advance equity have been identified.”

The Open OutDoors for Kids Blended Learning Grants Program supports four guiding principles: adaptation, inclusion, co-creation and shared learning.

  • Adaptation encourages parks to pilot, test and implement hybrid learning modules.
  • Inclusion aims to create space for all and ensure that all students see themselves in parks.
  • Co-creation incorporates teachers’ engagement with parks from the start to meet their needs at this time.
  • Shared learning encompasses the use of different strategies to develop and document successful models developed under this pilot initiative.

Thanks to private philanthropy, including support for Union Pacific Railroad’s Open OutDoors for Kids, a leading partner in NPF’s youth education and engagement initiative; Winnebago Industries Foundation; Niantic; Sierra; Columbia Sportswear; Parks project; The Batchelor Foundation, Inc .; Humana; and numerous individual donors, the FPN is investing nearly $ 1 million in the Open OutDoors for Kids blended learning program that supports communities across the country during the 2020-2021 school year.

Since 2011, the FPN has engaged over a million students in educational programs connecting them to the country’s national parks. Earlier this year, the FPN announced its goal of connecting another million students to the parks over the next four years.

Individuals, foundations and businesses can support FPN’s efforts to involve more students in national parks as classrooms by visiting the FPN website.

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 423 national parks and work with communities across the country to help preserve local history and create recreational opportunities close to home. Learn more at and on Facebook, Instagram,Twitterand YouTube.

About the National Park Foundation. The National Park Foundation works to protect parkland and wildlife, preserve history and culture, educate and engage youth, and connect people around the world to the wonders of parks. We do this in collaboration with the National Park Service, the park’s partner community, and with the generous support of donors, without whom our work would not be possible. Learn more at
Source: NPS

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