SOURCE: National Recreation and Park Association

National Recreation and Park Association

November 02, 2016 15:08 ET

New 'Wildlife Explorers' Program Connects Urban Youth with Nature

Program aims to inspire next generation of conservation leaders

ASHBURN, VA--(Marketwired - November 02, 2016) - Many children living in urban areas are not given the opportunity to explore the natural world around them. As a result, they have little to no affinity with nature. In an effort to inspire children living in urban areas to explore nature in their communities, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), a network of more than 52,000 park and recreation professionals and advocates, is proud to announce a new nature discovery program called Wildlife Explorers. Intended for children ages 5-10, this environmental education program encourages hands-on exploration and learning outdoors and connects children to the wonders of nature through their local parks.

Wildlife Explorers, which aims to reach 200,000 children over the next three years, will leverage existing out-of-school time programming happening at park and recreation facilities across the country. The program includes a series of six environmental education activities that can be implemented in any outdoor space and by anyone regardless of experience facilitating environmental or conservation programming.

NRPA is offering $30,000 in grant funding, provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Applied Materials, to help park and recreation agencies implement Wildlife Explorers. In addition to providing program supplies, the funding will be used to help agencies implement an action project that addresses a local environmental challenge. For example, participants may plant stream buffers or construct rain gardens to support improved watershed health, build and place nest boxes for declining cavity nesting bird species or plant trees to improve water and air quality.

"As environmental stewards, it is our job to help educate children about the importance of connecting with nature and protecting our natural resources," said Barbara Tulipane, NRPA President and CEO. "Through our new Wildlife Explorers program, we will do just that -- inspiring in them a love and curiosity for nature and fostering the next generation of conservation leaders."

Park and recreation professionals serve as conservation and environmental leaders in their communities. According to a 2013 survey conducted by the National Environmental Education Foundation, the majority of Americans consider parks to be a trusted source of environmental information. Forty-three percent of park and recreation agencies provide dedicated environmental education during out-of-school time.

For more information on the grant and to learn about Wildlife Explorers, visit www.nrpa.org/wildlifeexplorers/.

To learn more about NRPA, visit www.nrpa.org.

About The National Recreation and Park Association

The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing park, recreation and conservation efforts that enhance quality of life for all people. Through its network of more than 52,000 recreation and park professionals and citizens, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit www.nrpa.org. For digital access to NRPA's flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit www.parksandrecreation.org.

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