The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation announced the New York State Connect Kids to Parks” field trip grant program has welcomed 200,000 New York state public school students since the program began in 2016. The program offers state grants to public schools in Title 1 districts throughout New York to fund field trips to state parks and historic sites for environmental, historical and physical education programming.
To date, the program has funded over 4,000 field trips serving 200,000 students.
The announcement was made at Letchworth State Park, where students from the Buffalo City School District’s Riverside Academy spent the day on an environmental education field trip funded with a “Connect Kids” grant.
State Parks Acting Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “The New York State park system is an exceptional place for students to learn memorable lessons about science, the environment and history. ‘Connect Kids’ is inspiring a new generation of environmental stewards by expanding the opportunities for both children and adults to further connect with nature. We look forward to welcoming many more New York students to our parks and historic sites."
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Gov. Cuomo’s sustained $300 million investment in the Environmental Protection Fund for a remarkable fourth straight year has made valuable programs like ‘Connect Kids to Parks’ possible for thousands of young New Yorkers. The field trips this grant funding supports help introduce kids, particularly those living in environmental justice communities with limited access to the outdoors, to the natural world and inspires future generations of environmental leaders."
The “Connect Kids” program will refund up to $1,000 of the field trip costs for visits to a New York state park, nature center or historic site (parks), or a DEC environmental education center, fish hatchery, or selected DEC sites. Title 1 schools and any public school in a district with a Title 1 school (grades preK-12 including school-sponsored clubs), Advantage after-school programs, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, and village, town or county youth bureaus in communities with Title 1 schools are eligible to apply.
Applications for year four of the program will be available on June 1. Funding for “Connect Kids to Parks” field trip grant program comes from the state Environmental Protection Fund's enhanced environmental justice programming approved in the 2019-20 state budget. Information on the grant program is available here.
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which are visited by 74 million people annually. A recent study found New York State Parks generates $5 billion in park and visitor spending, which supports nearly 54,000 jobs and over $2.8 billion in additional state GDP. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit parks.ny.gov.