​At Clark County Green Schools, our staff are part of the Clark County Nature Network, a group of local organizations that work to get kids and families outdoors and embracing sustainability at school and at home. The US Forest Service Gifford Pinchot National Forest staff are also members of this group and recently told us about an exciting opportunity for fourth grade students and their families. The information was written by Stephen Baker, Public Affairs Officer for the Forest Service in the Pacific Northwest Region, and provided by Gala Milller, the Community Engagement Specialist for Gifford Pinchot National Forest. 

With the start of the new school year, it's also time for all fourth graders and their families to claim their free Every Kid Outdoors pass, formerly called Every Kid in the Park. This pass allows free entry into all federally managed parks, forests, and recreation areas for a full year.

Each year starting September 1st, fourth graders can print out a paper voucher for free entry into all federal lands by visiting Every Kid Outdoors. Students and their families can also redeem their paper voucher for a plastic pass at any Forest Service office. The voucher and passes are valid for the entire school year, September 1, 2019-August 31, 2020.

As a teacher, you can print passes for your students to take home. Find activities and lesson plans, here. Here's a great lesson on environmental stewardship.​

The Forest Service is partnering with schools and educators across Oregon and Washington to plan Every Kid Outdoors events in local communities and distribute passes at back-to-school events this fall. For more information on upcoming Every Kid Outdoors events, contact your local forest.

Today, more than 80 percent of American families live in urban areas, and many lack easy access to safe outdoor spaces. At the same time, kids are spending more hours than ever in front of screens instead of outside. The Every Kid Outdoors initiative encourages valuable opportunities to explore, learn, and play in the spectacular places that belong to us all and aims to inspire future generations to serve as stewards of these places. Research shows that children ages 9-11 are at a unique developmental stage in their learning where they begin to understand how the world around them works in more concrete ways. By targeting fourth graders, the program works to ensure every child in the U.S. has the opportunity to visit and enjoy their public lands by the time he or she is 11 years old.

For more information, visit www.everykidoutdoors.gov.​ To find nearby locations where the pass can be used, go to recreation.gov - scroll down to see an interactive map of Federal recreation sites!