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Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Partners offer free Fourth grade field trip grants

MUNISING — Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore was selected to receive a 2017-18 school year field trip grant from the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks.

This is the third year the park has been awarded the grant and partners with Hiawatha National Forest, Seney National Wildlife Refuge, Clear Lake Education Center and Michigan State University-Extension to actively engage fourth-graders in federal lands and waters, according to an NPS news release.

This grant, part of the Foundation’s Open OutDoors for Kids program, supports Every Kid in a Park.

“I can still remember the excitement of exploring my first national park as a kid and it made me want to discover more,” National Park Foundation President Will Shafroth said in the release. “I’m thrilled that our National Park Foundation grants make it possible for hundreds of thousands of kids to experience the wonder of parks for the first time, sparking a lifelong love for national parks.”

These grant funds are providing field trip opportunities to fourth grade classes within the three local school districts: Delta-Schoolcraft Intermediate School District, Eastern Upper Peninsula Intermediate School District and Marquette-Alger Regional Educational Service Agency. Awarded schools will receive the transportation funds to take a field trip to one of the three federal land units: Hiawatha National Forest, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore or Seney National Wildlife Refuge. By the end of this school year, over 1,000 students will have engaged in hands-on activities that will provide multiple avenues to explore, learn and play.

“This is our third year to receive these generous funds from the National Park Foundation and it’s allowed our interagency partnership to continue to create meaningful outdoor experiences for youth,” Interagency Education Specialist Melissa O’Donnell said. “This program fosters student connections to the remarkable federal lands and waters found right in their backyards.”

The Every Kid in a Park pass provides free access to over 2,000 federal lands and waters to our nation’s fourth-graders and their families. This year’s pass will be valid through Aug. 31 and features a new design. To obtain a pass or for more information about the pass, visit www.everykidinapark.gov.

Funds are still available for this field trip grant program and teachers can learn how to apply by contacting Melissa O’Donnell at modonnell@ fs.fed.us or at 906-202-0199.

The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service. Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help protect more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts, connect all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history, and inspire the next generation of park stewards. In 2016, commemorating the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary, the Foundation launched The Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks, a comprehensive fundraising campaign to strengthen and enhance the future of these national treasures for the next hundred years. Find out more and become a part of the national park community at www.nationalparks.org.

For additional information about Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, visit www.nps.gov/piro or find us on Facebook.