Every Kid in a Park? Who Goes to the National Parks? Start at a Park Near You!!


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Did you know that you own millions of acres of national parks, historic structures, cultural artifacts, ancient forests, snow-capped mountains, and clear blue lakes? Our public lands and waters belong to all Americans and are waiting for you to explore them!

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To help engage and create our next generation of park visitors, supporters and advocates, we are kicking off the Every Kid in a Park initiative. The immediate goal is to provide an opportunity for each and every 4th grade student across the country to experience their public lands and waters in person throughout the 2015-2016 school year.

Soon, you will have access to your own Every Kid in a Park pass. This pass will give you free access to national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges, and more!

The Every Kid in a Park pass will be available for the 2015-2016 school year.

Every Kid in a Park joins the Foundation’s Open Outdoors for Kids program in helping children learn history, culture, and science while exploring the great outdoors. The initiative is an administration-wide effort among the National Park Service, Forest Service, Department of Education, Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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The place above is the Arlington County Outdoor Lab where I learned from Phoebe Hall Knipling how to teach outdoors. First she invited me out there and she kept teaching me trails, ecology , plants and animals of the place , until I was a skilled teacher.

The Phoebe Hall Knipling Outdoor Lab now is a 225-acre facility that provides science and outdoor education to the students of Arlington County Public Schools.

%255BUNSET%255D-6In this natural classroom, urban youth — often for the first time — can run in a meadow, climb a mountain, hike beside a stream, or fish in a pond. Four classes per week visit the Outdoor Lab, one of which has an overnight, and there are three week-long summer camps. Each year, the Outdoor Lab provides hands-on outdoor and environmental education to more than 9,000 students, from elementary grades through high school.

I was lucky to work there in the summers too.

Phoebe had us learning birding, weeds and wildflowers, and ecology.IMG_7779

Dr. Phoebe Hall Knipling was a remarkable woman by anyone’s standards. Born in North Carolina, she developed a love and appreciation of nature in early life. By the time she had enrolled in public school at the age of 9, entered college at 15, and earned a Ph.D. at 23, her love of nature and passion for science were melded. She was first a teacher and later the first female Science Supervisor in the state of Virginia. She spent much of her time traveling over the state, taking high school science students on advanced summer field study programs.Phoebe knew, well before the rest of the country, that environmental, outdoor education was absolutely essential to the development of young people — people who would be making the decisions of the future. She knew that hands-on experiences were worth a thousand pages of textbook. As Arlington became increasingly more developed and less natural, and as the security and dependability of faraway study sites became less certain, Phoebe dreamed of one facility — secure and natural, close to Arlington — where our children would engage in outdoor studies.
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  • The non-profit Arlington Outdoor Education Association (AOEA) was founded in 1967, which later purchased a 210 acre tract on a small mountain in Fauquier County. The land was purchased for $90,000 from a Mrs. Striker, who sold it for $100,000 less than other offers, with the stipulation that her land be preserved and protected. The Mr. Preston Carruthers also loaned the AOEA $51,000 to help make the initial purchase. Today, the AOEA is responsible for maintaining the Outdoor Lab facilities, and provides camperships to needy students to allow participation by those who otherwise could not afford the fees. Costs associated with educational programs at the Lab are funded by Arlington County Public Schools.
     AOEA salamander mascotThere are groups that will help you learn and hone your skills. I worked with the Fish and Wildlife Service and we were able to visit Blackwater on a special trip. The personnel of the Fish and Wildlife Service involved us in the Duck Stamp Program as well.IMG_0493
    • Raptor Cams

      Bald eagle - Woody Dawson.Check out the raptor cams at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Visitors can view the osprey nest and bald eagle nest either online or from the refuge visitor center. Learn more on the raptor cams page.

      Raptor Cams Page

    I loved teaching students in the out of doors. It was a bonding time. Some parents and I made i t a gourmet eating time. Julie Mangis would help me whip up a menu and the kids loved what we cooked.

    When technology came we created Outdoor News from the lab. We published our adventures, finds and activities.

    We learned to read a stream in quadrant study. We learned to read the trails. We spent time in a stream, and we hiked Biscuit Mountain.

    Each park or place has a history. At the Outdoor Lab we learned the history of the Civil War, explored the many springs, and hiked the trails we did story telling, and looked for patterns in nature. Stream study was one of the most exciting nature study programs.

    We wrote our adventures to the computer and edited the adventures of the day to share with parents.

    Julie Mangis and other parents helped create wonderful menus for our culinary experiences. while there and of course we ate S’mores. But we also used a big telescope to look at the night sky.

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    I like the fact that parents and community are involved because it can become a matter of habit.

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