As the National Park Service makes itself known and available to American families, Keweenaw area fourth graders are receiving a visit from a park ranger who is extending an invitation to the students for a field trip they will taking in the upcoming spring.
“Fourth Graders are selected because they are the perfect age of being curious and precocious but it’s typically also the age where American history is taught. And most National Park Service sites are based in some way on history and culture,” said Park Ranger Katie Keller.
Keller has two reasons to visit fourth graders. “The purpose of today’s visit is a pre-visit for our Copper TRACES program, where in May, all of the 4th graders will come to the Calumet unit of Keweenaw National Historical Park for a really awesome field trip.”
When Copper TRACES was created in 2016, the National Parks Service celebrated its 100th anniversary and the program was built in conjunction with another federal program called Every Kid in a Park.
Park Superintendent Kathleen Harter said, “Our park ranger, our education technician, Ranger Katie has gone to all of these classrooms and introduced them to the Every Kid in a Park program along with the National Park Service and Keweenaw National Historical Park. She visited with them and gave them their park passes and that allows that child and up to three adults free access to that park and it’s good for one year.”
“Every Kid In a Park is an interagency initiative on behalf of the federal government. Agencies like The National Park Service, the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, all have federal lands in all 50 states and with the Every Kid in a Park pass you get into those sites for free,” said Keller.
Katie visits area students at the beginning of each school year and spends a full class period with the 4th graders, engaging their interest and curiosity. “I introduce them to National Parks, the Keweenaw National Historical Park, and distribute passes for them to get into the National Parks with their families.”
With group activities like the National Park Dance, and class participation–examining the symbols represented in the Iconic Arrowhead–the students are introduced to the park system in an inviting manner—some of them for the first time. “Overall I’ll probably do about 30 of these visits this fall. I think I will be handing out 528 by November,” Keller said.
While the Keweenaw National Historical Park continues to plan and prepare for the upcoming spring event, the 4th graders and their families are welcome to use that pass at any National Park, with 417 to choose from across the country.