The Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) worked with Santa Fe Public Schools (SFPS) to provide every fourth grade student in the district with an Every Kid in a Park pass that provides free access to hundreds of national forests, parks and waters for them and their families.
The SFNF handed out 1,073 passes to 19 SFPS elementary schools with the Pecos National Historical Park providing 65 passes to the El Dorado Community School. The passes are equivalent to the Interagency Annual Pass which sells for $80, giving the passes for Santa Fe students a market value of more than $91,000.
The Every Kid in a Park program, which Congress recently reauthorized and renamed Every Kid Outdoors, is a federal initiative to build the next generation of environmental stewards by giving children a chance to explore, learn and play in America’s great outdoors. By targeting fourth graders one year at a time, the program ensures that every child in the country has the opportunity to visit public lands and historic sites by the age of 11.
The SFNF worked with Elena Kayak, Sustainability Program Specialist for SFPS, to put a pass in every fourth grader’s hand. “Students are so excited to receive their passes,” Kayak said. “Our fourth grade teachers have been supporting this initiative in lovely ways, from inviting Smokey Bear to visit to acknowledging the ancestral lands our communities are built on to encouraging students to take the conservation pledge. We are so grateful to the Santa Fe National Forest staff who collaborated with us to make all this happen.”
“The Santa Fe National Forest is literally in our kids’ backyard, and yet we find that so many children in Santa Fe have never hiked a trail, fished in a stream or gone camping with their families,” SFNF Supervisor James Melonas said. “Every Kid in a Park – now Every Kid Outdoors – is a wonderful way to introduce young people to their public lands and the natural and cultural resources of America.”
The passes admit fourth graders and their families to National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service sites that charge entrance fees and cover standard amenity fees at Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and US Army Corps of Engineers sites. They do not cover expanded amenity fees such as camping, boat launch or interpretive fees. For more information about Every Kid in a Park, visit the website at https://www.everykidinapark.gov/.
SFPS fourth graders and their families have responded positively to the passes. One student at Ramirez Thomas Elementary said he was going to use his to take his grandpa fishing, and another wondered if he could “save my pass for the future” when his own children enter the fourth grade.