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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (21st District of New York)

Washington, D.C.  – Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, along with eight of her House colleagues, has sent a bipartisan letter to the National Park Service requesting that they extend the 2019-2020 Every Kid Outdoors pass into the 2020-2021 school year. Since 2015, the Department of the Interior has offered fourth graders and their family’s free entrance to all federally managed public land through the Every Kid Outdoors Program. Congress authorized this program through the bipartisan Every Kid Outdoors Act in 2019.

The COVID-19 pandemic has, however, presented another hurdle for students and families to accessing America’s public lands, waters, and historic sites, and the Every Kid Outdoors pass for the 2019-2020 school year expired on August 31st, 2020. The letter that has been led by Congresswoman Stefanik requests a swift consideration of a full year extension of the Every Kid Outdoors Pass into the next year so that students and their families can continue to explore the rich natural and cultural history on display in our public lands.

“North Country families, and families across this country, regularly explore and enjoy our public lands, waters, and historic sites all year round,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “It is so important that we encourage our students to engage with public lands and learn through them, and unfortunately many of those areas had to temporarily close as a result of COVID-19. I am proud to be leading the effort in the House to request that the Every Kid Outdoors pass that was issued this year be extended for another year, in order to ensure that our students and families do not miss out on this educational opportunity. I am a longtime supporter of efforts to increase access to and funding for public lands, including the Great American Outdoors Act, which was signed into law this year. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House, and with the administration to see that this extension is awarded. These areas are of rich natural and cultural history and we must continue to ensure that Americans can enjoy them.

“The Every Kid Outdoors pass has invited millions of fourth graders and their families to experience the outdoors and connect with America’s national parks and public lands,” said Jackie Ostfeld, chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids. “Extending last year’s EKO pass into 2021 is a simple and bipartisan way to ensure that, after a year of disruption, young people do not miss out on the opportunity to experience these amazing places. We thank Rep. Stefanik for supporting this common-sense action.” 

“As a leading provider of day, resident and specialty camps, the YMCA knows that outdoor and environmental education improves the health and well-being of young people and instills in them an appreciation for the world around them,” said Kevin Washington, president and CEO of YMCA of the USA. “Unfortunately, these educational opportunities have been limited this year, with our kids, families, communities and organizations challenged in new and unprecedented ways by community shutdowns and school, camp and park closures. By extending the Every Kid Outdoors park pass into 2021, the National Parks Service can create additional opportunities for eligible students who weren’t able to take advantage of the pass this year to get outdoors, understand the historic, cultural and recreational value of our public lands, and continue their development as the next generation of stewards of these lands.”

Find a copy of the letter here.

MIL OSI USA News