The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests is one of 186 federal sites selected to receive a field trip grant from the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America's national parks. Fourth grade students will participate in the Forest Service Junior Snow Ranger program and experience the "thrill of the chill" on cross country skis and snow shoes exploring the forest in winter.
This grant, part of the foundation's Open OutDoors for Kids program, supports the White House youth initiative Every Kid in a Park.
"It is inspiring to see the National Park Foundation and many other partners step up to support our goal of getting fourth graders and their families into parks, public lands and waters that belong to all Americans," said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. "These generous grants will ensure children across the country have an opportunity to experience the great outdoors in their community while developing a lifelong connection to our nation's land, water and wildlife."
National Park Foundation grants have made it possible for more than 400,000 students (including this year's grantees) to visit national parks and other public lands and waters.
"We want to help people everywhere, from all backgrounds, discover how national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and other public lands and waters are relevant to their lives, and the best way to do that is to give people the opportunity to experience them first-hand," said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation. "Through our grants that provide funding for transportation and in-park learning, we are able to connect youth and their families to these special places and inspire people across the country to find their park which, in turn, can foster a lifelong connection to all that public lands and waters have to offer."
This grant received by the GMUG National Forest pays transportation fees to bus approximately 188 fourth grade students to the Grand Mesa and Uncompahgre National Forests to experience a new winter sport, cross country skiing or snowshoeing, learn about snow science, connect with nature and have fun in the snow. Students from Palisade, Clifton, Collbran, Naturita, Norwood and Paradox elementary schools will observe nature in winter through a scavenger hunt, discover how different animals adapt to winter, learn how to prepare for winter outings and prevent hypothermia, identify snow crystals and learn how they create avalanche conditions. With the completion of the Junior Snow Ranger (JSR) Activity booklet, the students will receive a JSR badge, pin and certificate.
"The Forest Service and our partners, the Grand Mesa Nordic Council and the Interpretive Association of Western Colorado, are excited to receive this grant and provide an opportunity to bring more kids to our national forest and discover how cool winter can be," said Anne Janik, Forest Service winter education program lead. To find out more about Junior Snow Rangers and the "More Kids in the Woods" program visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/gmug/MKIW.