GSMNP welcomes fourth grade students through Every Kid in a Park initiative

ZZ Kids birdwatch with Smokies Ranger

Kids birdwatch with Smokies ranger/photo submitted

National program encourages families and classes to visit national parks

GSMNP (press release)—Great Smoky Mountains National Park invites all fourth grade students to visit the park as part of the White House’s new Every Kid in a Park program. The park offers a variety of activities that fourth graders and their family can enjoy, including guided discovery hikes, educational programs and self-guided junior ranger activities. Special events, like the upcoming Mountain Life Festival and Stargazing events, also offer great opportunities for kids to experience the Smokies in a fun and educational way.

“Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers incredible opportunities for all to learn and explore the beauty and wonder of the Smokies,” said Park Superintendent Cassius Cash. “We hope this program will lead more teachers and families to take advantage of these opportunities and use their free passes for fourth graders to explore more of our national treasures, places where they can run and play, explore and learn.”

Students in the fourth grade can now go to and complete an activity to obtain a free annual entry pass to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including national parks. Fourth graders and their families can then use this pass for free entry national parks and other federal public lands and waters across the country from September 1, 2015–August 31, 2016. The website also includes fun and engaging learning activities aligned to educational standards, trip planning tools, safety and packing tips and other important and helpful information for educators and parents.

In addition to providing every fourth grader in America a free entry pass for national parks and federal public lands and waters, fourth grade educators, youth group leaders and their students across the country will also participate in the program through field trips and other learning experiences. Teachers interested in these opportunities in the Smokies can visit to find field trip information and curriculum based education materials specific to the Smokies.

The goal of the Every Kid in a Park program is to connect fourth graders with the great outdoors and inspire them to become future environmental stewards, ready to preserve and protect national parks and other public lands for years to come. The program is an important part of the National Park Service’s centennial celebration in 2016 which encourages everyone to Find Your Park.

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