Jack Johnson and his wife Kim have committed to fund $100,000 worth of field trip grants to help all 17,000 fourth-grade students in the state visit a National Park, including Haleakala. The financial commitment is part of a new partnership between Johnson’s Kokua Hawaii Foundation and the Every Kid in a Park Program.
“It’s when we visit new places that we are truly inspired to learn about them,” Johnson said. “What better way to expand the next generation’s knowledge of Hawaii’s unique history, culture and environment than to encourage them to use all of their senses to explore the important sites around these islands.”
In addition to the Kokua Hawaii Foundation–which Johnson and his wife founded in 2003 to support environmental education–the new partnership also involves the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The partnership supports the Every Kid in a Park program, an effort started by the White House to encourage fourth-grade students to visit national parks and other federal lands and waters for free with their families and classes.
Johnson–along with U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Interior Michael L. Connor, U.S. Forest Service Associate Chief Mary Wagner and U.S. Senator Brian Schatz–announced the partnership on Nov. 12 during an Every Kid in a Park celebration at the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge on the North Shore of Oahu.
“Thanks to Jack Johnson’s generous support and commitment to conservation, Hawaii’s fourth-graders will be able to visit the federal lands in their backyards,” said Deputy Secretary Connor. “Through new and innovative partnerships like the one with the Kokua Hawaii Foundation, we’re helping as many fourth graders as possible to get outside and build connections with their public lands and waters.”
During the Every Kid in a Park celebration, Connor, Wagner and Johnson helped more than 200 local fourth-graders as they participated in fun, hands-on activities including a marine debris beach cleanup, an albatross bolus dissection and native plant restoration. Students also learned about habitat preservation for endangered water birds, sea turtles, and even the yellow-faced bee. Each student also received an Every Kid in a Park annual pass that provides free entrance for them and their families at more than 2,000 federally managed lands and waters, including national parks, wildlife refuges, and national forests and grasslands. The event was hosted in partnership with the Outdoors Alliance for Kids.
“Our children are among our most precious resources,” Wagner said. “The generosity of Jack Johnson will go far beyond a school-bus ride to public lands. His offer to ensure that all fourth graders in Hawaii can connect to the natural world will no doubt spark the beginning of an indelible link to the outdoors.”
“Far too few kids have access to the natural world where they can have fun, get active and learn about their environment,” said Outdoors Alliance for Kids Co-Founder and Chair Jackie Ostfeld. “We are happy to support the effort here in Hawaii and across America to help increase the number of fourth graders who can visit their public lands, waters, and shores.”
Fourth graders can log onto the website at Everykidinapark.gov and complete an educational activity in order to obtain and print their paper pass. Students may also trade in their paper pass for a more durable pass at participating federal sites nationwide.
The Every Kid in a Park program is a part of President Barack Obama’s commitment to protect our nation’s unique outdoor spaces and provide every American with opportunities to visit and enjoy them. By introducing fourth graders to public lands, near and far, the program delivers a nationwide call to action to build the next generation of stewards of our country’s spectacular and diverse federal lands and waters.
Photo of Jack Johnson: Peter Chiapperino/Wikimedia Commons