Amount Requested: $5,000 for Youth Education in Our National Park
Mission: The Shenandoah National Park Trust helps protect what you love about Shenandoah National Park, while creating programs to inspire the next generation of national park stewards. As the official philanthropic partner of Shenandoah National Park, the Trust invests in programs and initiatives which help ensure that Shenandoah remains a crown jewel of the Park Service, an economic driver for the region, and a national treasure for all to enjoy, for generations to come. Our work is focused on four priority areas: Protecting natural and cultural resources, connecting people to their park, educating youth, and enhancing the park service.
Constituents Served: The majority of our programs benefit all of the 1.3 million visitors who enjoys Shenandoah National Park each year. Our youth education programs focus on engaging underserved youth from a wide ranging geographic area, with additional focus on the gateway communities surrounding the park. In 2015, our youth education programs engaged six park service interns who interacted with over 6,500 park visitors as education and interpretation Rangers, 116 underserved youth from 5 states who participated in day trips or week-long summer camps, 2,000 children who participated in field trips to the park through our Ticket to Ride program, and we redesigned 10,000 Junior Ranger books as education and engagement tools for children visiting the park.
Program Overview: Today’s youth are the next generation of leaders, decision-makers, and stewards of our environment. They are also a generation that is more connected to technology than they are to the natural world around them. Studies show that this disconnect from nature can contribute to issues including trouble paying attention, obesity, anxiety, and depression. At the Trust we are dedicated to providing robust education opportunities that connect children to nature through multiple channels, including in-park programs, teacher-led experiences, and online and mobile learning. The Trust and the Shenandoah National Park staff are dedicated to providing opportunities that inspire children to grow and develop into healthy, empowered and successful young adults. Our Youth Education initiative focuses on under-served youth, and youth in the gateway communities surrounding the park. An few examples of our programs include our Youth Service Learning Camps, which are comprised of four sessions of week-long overnight camps in Shenandoah National Park. Step By Step: From Neighborhood to National Park, launched in 2015, introduces urban and rural under-served youth to their national park through a three-step approach. In collaboration with Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Boys and Girls Club, step one starts youth off with a Park Ranger who comes right to their neighborhood. Step two brings the children to Shenandoah for a low-stress/high-energy day trip. Step three culminates with an overnight camping trip in the park. Ticket to Ride is our field trip program through which we engage students in hands-on learning experiences, getting them out of the classroom to apply what they learn to the real world. Unfortunately, as school budgets continue to shrink, these valuable learning experiences continue to be cut. In 2015, the Trust provided transportation to more than 2,000 children for field trips to Shenandoah National Park through cost reimbursements. In past years this has included several hundred students from the Community Foundation of Central Blue Ridge’s service area, most recently students from Churchville Elementary in Augusta County.
Current Operating Budget: $935,000
Program Budget: $115,055