Submitted by Betsy Kirkeby
Montana State Parks (stateparks.mt.gov) is pleased to announce that applications for $300 field trip travel grants are now being accepted through the 2018 Montana Fourth Graders to Public Lands Initiative. The grant money is aimed at providing transportation funding to Montana fourth graders for visits to federal and state public lands with an emphasis on assisting classrooms and groups who lack needed transportation funds. The grants are made possible by the National Park Foundation and help support the 2015 White House youth initiative Every Kid in a Park.
Now in its third year, the program has already awarded grants to 76 schools across Montana, touching the lives of over 3,300 fourth grade students. “For many this trip was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said one teacher who received a grant in 2017. “So many of our kids didn’t know what was on the other side of the divide let alone go hiking. This was an opportunity for them to enjoy and explore our great state of Montana.”
In 2017, there were 46 grantees from 35 different schools and programs. Collectively they visited 19 different places, including a wide range of national and state parks, national forests, historical sites, and recreation areas. Nearly 90% of grant recipients were Title 1 schools, or entities that have a high number or high percentage of children from low-income families.
Requests for the $300 grants will be filled on a first-come, first-served, basis and until funding is no longer available. The grants are open to fourth grade classrooms and groups with priority given toward underserved schools and communities. The grants can be used for travel to federal and state public lands, as well as outdoor education centers. Trip costs can include items such as bus driver fees, gas, bus and van rental costs, and mileage reimbursement for chaperones or teachers. Field trips must take place by August 30, 2018. To apply, visit stateparks.mt.gov and click “Learn With US”.
This initiative represents an important collaboration between Montana State Parks, Glacier National Park, the National Park Foundation, and the Montana Environmental Education Association (MEEA).