Fourth graders to gain entrance to parks for free

Published 5:22 pm Sunday, September 6, 2015

Children nationwide are being encouraged to step outside and enjoy all the wonder the great outdoors has to offer. For fourth graders, the opportunity will come free of charge.

Every Kid in a Park is a national initiative to get kids outdoors. The initiative was created by President Obama and has been supported by the Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation.

“The initiative is simply to connect kids to the local parks and let them know what the Corps has available. They can continue to take advantage of the outdoors basically year-round because we do have lots of students who visit the parks with their families as well as some of their classes,” said Shirley Smith, public affairs specialist at the U.S. Army Corps Vicksburg District of Engineers public affairs office.

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The initiative allows fourth-graders and their families across the country to enter federally managed sites free of charge for an entire year. Fourth graders nationally can visit to get their pass to over 2,000 outdoor sites nationwide.

The website also has a section for educators to access an activity and print passes for their entire class. The passes expire Aug. 31, 2016.

The website even helps plan trips for families and classes. Children can choose if they want to visit the woods, go to a park, see protected animals or find more places to play.

The link they choose will take them to a website where they can find a park or area that offers everything they want to do in the best location for them.

“There are picnic tables and benches. We have, of course, for summertime there is swimming and boating with their families. There are numerous activities. A lot of the recreational sites have walking trails, nature trails,” Smith said.

The point of the initiative is to get children to understand and appreciate the outdoors, which will encourage them to want to preserve it for future generations.

“It’s just an initiative to get every child in the United States the chance to explore and learn about America’s great outdoors, and being that the Corps is the largest federal provider of outdoor water-based recreation, this initiative would be an excellent one for the Corps,” Smith said.

Lakes and recreational sites within the Corps’ Vicksburg District are part of the initiative like Arkabutla, Enid, Grenada, and Sardis lakes in Mississippi and more in Arkansas. Visit to find more of the over 400 lake and river projects the Corps manage.

“It enhances the public’s knowledge about the Corps overall…and it also enlightens them as to the type of recreational facilities we have,” Smith said.

In addition to the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, this initiative is being supported by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service.

“The Every Kid in the Park initiative will connect kids to  their local parks, so they can continue to take advantage of all that our outdoors has to offer. Millions of children visit Corps parks with their families and classrooms each year, and this initiative will help introduce millions more to the joys of recreation, education, and our nation’s water resources,” said Honorable Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army for Civil works, in a press release.

For more information, visit or the Every Kid in a Park Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Your Tube channel.