On Saturday, October 22, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell joined Google to announce a $165,000 sponsorship to the National Park Foundation’s Open OutDoors for Kids, an initiative that helps connect more kids to their national parks through fun and engaging activities. The announcement was made during a campout held on Google’s Kirkland campus together with the U.S. Department of the Interior and YMCA for 60 Seattle-area elementary students.
“On behalf of Interior, I want to thank Google for their generous donation to help fourth graders from disadvantaged communities experience the great outdoors,” said Secretary Jewell. “Spending a day and night on the Cross Kirkland Corridor for these youngsters is a reminder that there are accessible public lands close by every community that enable family, friends and kids of all ages to enjoy nature. Experiences like we’re having today not only provide meaningful learning opportunities, but also plant seeds that will nurture future generations of outdoor stewards.”
The donation to the National Park Foundation – the official nonprofit partner of the National Park Service – helps support the Every Kid in a Park initiative and will fund transportation grants for 1,700 underserved children to visit national parks and participate in multi-day environmental education programs. In addition to the field trips, Google is working with teachers and certified educators to create free National Parks-based educational resources in the form of virtual field trips (Google Expeditions) and lesson plans.
“We’re delighted to announce support for the Open OutDoors for Kids initiative today with a campout complete with a campfire,” said Darcy Nothnagle, Google’s head of external affairs, NW. “Google has always made it a priority to help students discover the world — one way is through technology like Google Expeditions that allow students to travel the world in virtual reality. This grant is the next step, helping students visit parks in person to experience the outdoors throughout the country.”
The campout at Google featured outdoor games and educational activities from Google and local partners, including NatureBridge, Woodland Park Zoo, Pacific Science Center, National Park Service, Fish & Wildlife Service. REI taught kids how to set up their camp, learn principles of “leave no trace,” and provided tents for the campout. The Tulalip Tribe led an evening activity highlighting the culture and history of their tribe in the Pacific Northwest.
Working collaboratively with the public, private and nonprofit sectors, the U.S. Department of the Interior is committed to preparing the next generation of environmental stewards and leaders through outdoor exploration, education and adventure. This includes leading First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Outside initiative to inspire millions of young people to play, learn, serve and work in the great outdoors. Last year, Secretary Jewell joined forces with First Lady Michelle Obama hosting the first campout at the White House.
In partnership with the YMCA of the USA and hundreds of nonprofit organizations across the country, the Department of the Interior is creating a movement to increase opportunities for kids to play, learn, serve and work outdoors.