The initiative is designed to create meaningful connections to parks and all public lands and waters and is scheduled to begin during the 2015-2016 school year.
“This program is ideal for Southern Nevada,” said Patrick Gubbins, acting superintendent Lake Mead National Recreation Area. “Not only does this area feature some of the most beautiful public lands in our country, but it is also home to one of the nation’s largest school districts.”
The Clark County School District is the sixth largest school district in the nation with around 300,000 students and more than 23,000 fourth graders. Lake Mead National Recreation Area has been working with the school district for years to get kids into the park.
Nearly every day, there is a school field trip at the recreation area. One of the popular programs is the floating classroom where students and teachers board the Desert Princess, a Mississippi-style paddle-wheeler boat, to study plants and animals in the Mojave Desert and to learn about local geology.
Another fourth grade adventure, “Stories in Stone,” takes classes to Redstone, which is located along Northshore Road. Here, students learn to use a map and compass to locate and identify local landforms.
To complement the fourth grade curriculum that focuses on Nevada history, rangers offer “Hiking through History.” While hiking the Historic Railroad Trail, students learn why the Hoover Dam and U.S. Government Railroad were built and about the living conditions for those who came to the area seeking employment.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area works with other grade levels, too. Feb. 17, the park received the Intermountain Region Leaders in Wilderness Stewardship Award with Zion National Park and Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument for their Concrete to Canyons program.
The three-day wilderness experience provided 100 underserved youth and families from Las Vegas the opportunity to build lifelong connections with wilderness through classroom instruction, hiking, camping and outdoor activities. The students learned how water sculpted and continues to change the canyon, how organisms contribute to a healthy eco-system, and why wilderness is a precious resource.
April 25, the park will welcome kids of all ages out to the park for Junior Ranger Day. During the free event at Boulder Beach Picnic Area, kids can try on fire gear, explore the mysteries of archaeology, see live reptiles, create music and art, cast with real fishing rods, play desert jenga, discover plants and animals of the area, and be sworn in as junior rangers. Smokey Bear, Rad Tad, Coastie, Mojave Max and Bark Rangers Charlotte and Cooper will be there, too.
Teachers can find out about field trip and curriculum opportunities at Lake Mead National Recreation Area by visiting http://www.nps.gov/lake/forteachers. Program outlines and activity plans are available online, making the programs accessible for home-schooled students, as well.
For more information on the Every Kid in a Park initiative, visit http://www.nationalparks.org/ook/every-kid-in-a-park.