National Park Foundation Grants Support White House’s ‘Every Kid in a Park’ Initiative

Grants from the National Park Foundation, part of its Open OutDoors for Kids program, support the White House youth initiative, Every Kid in a Park © 2016 Karen Rubin/
Grants from the National Park Foundation, part of its Open OutDoors for Kids program, support the White House youth initiative, Every Kid in a Park © 2016 Karen Rubin/

More than 140,000 kids will have the opportunity to visit federal public lands and waters in the 2015-2016 school year, thanks to 186 grants from the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks. These grants, part of the Foundation’s Open OutDoors for Kids program, support the White House youth initiative Every Kid in a Park.

“It is inspiring to see the National Park Foundation and many other partners step up to support our goal of getting fourth graders and their families into parks, public lands and waters that belong to all Americans,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “These generous grants will ensure children across the country have an opportunity to experience the great outdoors in their community while developing a lifelong connection to our nation’s land, water and wildlife.”

The 186 grants announced total $1.1 million and provide funding to remove barriers to accessing our nation’s public lands and waters, with a special focus on underserved and urban communities. With cutbacks in school funding for field trips, this strategic funding will help provide comprehensive access to all federal sites, including national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, marine sanctuaries and more.

“We have long known that kids learn better when they have opportunities to practice what they are learning in school, and parks and public lands offer them great opportunities to get their feet wet while collecting water samples, studying wildlife in its natural habitat, or exploring the places where history happened,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “These grants provided by the National Park Foundation will connect schoolchildren with public lands and waters, taking the lessons out of their schoolbooks and bringing them to life.”

National Park Foundation grants, supported by Disney, have made it possible for more than 400,000 students (including this year’s grantees) to visit national parks and other public lands and waters. Since 2014, Disney has been the lead sponsor of Open OutDoors for Kids, opening a world of possibilities, inspiration and adventure for young people.

“We want to help people everywhere, from all backgrounds, discover how national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and other public lands and waters are relevant to their lives, and the best way to do that is to give people the opportunity to experience them first-hand,” said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation. “Through our grants that provide funding for transportation and in-park learning, we are able to connect youth and their families to these special places and inspire people across the country to find their park which, in turn, can foster a lifelong connection to all that public lands and waters have to offer.”

The National Park Foundation is leading the on-the-ground efforts for Every Kid in a Park in collaboration with the National Park Service, Forest Service, Department of Education, Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Collaborations between schools, teachers, youth groups, Friends Groups, and other partner organizations make each grantee’s project possible. Examples include:

Boston African American National Historic Site (Massachusetts)

  • More than 600 fourth-graders in the Boston Public Schools system will visit the park and learn about the importance of the African American community in Boston and the fight against slavery.

Libby Dam and Lake Koocanusa (Montana)

  • More than 170 fourth-graders will use a stream table model with conservation district partners, visit with a wildlife rehabilitator and see live birds of prey, learn about animal track identification, tour the dam and outdoor recreation areas, and go on a nature hike and scavenger hunt.

Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area (Idaho)

  • 100 fourth-graders from Reed Elementary School will hike in the footsteps of those who traversed the Oregon Trail.

Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary (Michigan)

  • Approximately 650 fourth-graders from local schools will get hands-on experience exploring underwater shipwrecks with robots, taking water samples in the Thunder Bay River, and learning the effects of climate change with NOAA scientists.

Pisgah Ranger District (North Carolina)

  • More than 150 fourth-graders from local schools will have the opportunity to be “gumshoes” and travel back to 1905 to learn tools and traditions from mountain culture, including washing clothes with a washboard and forest water.

Patuxent Research Refuge (Maryland)

  • 500 Baltimore, Prince George’s, and Fairfax county public school fourth-graders will participate in wetland observation and water quality sampling, outdoor wildlife and habitat games , an educational tram ride, and a woodland scavenger hunt.

Saguaro National Park (Arizona)

  • 2,550 fourth-graders from Tucson schools will explore the Hohokam culture by creating petroglyphs, digging into the past with archeologist tools, tasting foods of O’odham and Mexican cultures, and engaging in homesteading chores like those of the Hispanic and Anglo-American settlers. Students will also learn about hunting and gathering during hikes through the park.

The National Park Foundation thanked Disney for its generous support of Open OutDoors for Kids.

Individuals, foundations, and corporations can visit to contribute to the National Park Foundation’s efforts to support Every Kid in a Park. You can also view the full list of grantees, and their projects, on the same website.

To participate in the Every Kid in a Park program, fourth graders nationwide can visit and download a free pass.

The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service.  Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help PROTECT more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts, CONNECT all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history, and INSPIRE the next generation of park stewards.  Find out more and become a part of the national park community at


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National Geographic Unique Lodges Collection Doubles to 45 Destinations on 6 Continents

Lizard Island resort in the Great Barrier Reef, is the only development on the island, accessible exclusively by plane and filling only 40 rooms at a time (photo by National Geographic Travel).
Lizard Island resort in the Great Barrier Reef, is the only development on the island, accessible exclusively by plane and filling only 40 rooms at a time (photo by National Geographic Travel).

Since launching in January 2015, National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World has nearly doubled the number of properties in its impressive collection, increasing its geographic breadth to the Canadian High Arctic, Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, the Seychelles, the mountains of northern Greece and beyond. The collection began with 24 charter members and accepted 14 in June and seven over the past few months, bringing it to 45 lodges — and counting. These extraordinary properties were selected for the outstanding guest service and experiences they offer, and for their leadership in sustainable tourism and commitment to protecting cultural and natural heritage. They must undergo a rigorous vetting process and a site audit to become part of the collection.

Lodges joining the collection include:

With the additions this past year come a wide range of new opportunities for travelers, such as walking safaris with world-class guides at The Bushcamp Company in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park, horseback riding and hiking in the shadow of a volcano at Mexico’s Hacienda de San Antonio, and cooking classes with a renowned chef in Alaska’s backcountry at Winterlake Lodge. At all of the properties in the collection, guests who book their stay through the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World online site ( are treated to a special, exclusive experience, such as a meeting with the son of a traditional shaman at Pacuare Lodge in Costa Rica, or a private catered dinner in a grove of ancient milkwood trees at South Africa’s Grootbos Private Nature Reserve.

The owners and managers of the lodges are some of the world’s leading minds in sustainable tourism. By bringing them together, the collection has created a vibrant forum for the exchange of ideas, innovations, and best practices. At a gathering of members in May 2015, topics of discussion included an air conditioning system run on coconut oil and deep sea water at the Brando in French Polynesia, and an initiative at Sukau Rainforest Lodge in Malaysian Borneo to ward off wild elephants using bees—creating an income generator for local communities while reducing conflicts between humans and wildlife.

The award-winning website features detailed descriptions of each lodge as well as a variety of rich content: profiles of staff members, favorite recipes from the lodge chefs, and stories about conservation initiatives and community projects sponsored by the lodges.

“We built National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World to serve as a shining example of sustainable tourism around the world, and we are thrilled to see the remarkable growth of the collection this past year. By providing such fantastic guest experiences while demonstrating how travel can be a force for good, we hope to elevate sustainable tourism and inspire others to join us,” said Lynn Cutter, National Geographic’s executive vice president for Travel. “We look forward to providing travelers with even broader array of unique opportunities around the world as we continue to expand our collection in the years to come.”

National Geographic Unique Lodges offer travelers a full-service experience from booking to checkout. On the Unique Lodges website, travelers can search for lodges by region or by activity — such as birding or kayaking — and find the lowest rates available. They can request a reservation or book a National Geographic Private Expedition that features a Unique Lodge, such as an expedition to Costa Rica that features a stay at Pacuare Lodge and Lapa Rios Eco Lodge, or a trip to the Greek Isles that includes three nights at Kapari Natural Resort on Santorini, with an option to continue your trip at Aristi Mountain Resort and Villas. Or they can create a custom itinerary that incorporates a stay at a Unique Lodge.

Here is a complete list of National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World members:

For more information about National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, visit Lodge owners may apply to join the collection at

National Geographic Travel creates authentic, meaningful and engaging travel experiences through National Geographic Traveler magazine; National Geographic Expeditions; National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World; travel books; maps; digital travel content; and travel photography programs. National Geographic Traveler (six issues per year) is the world’s most widely read travel magazine and has 17 international editions. National Geographic Expeditions offers a variety of unique travel experiences led by top experts to more than 80 destinations across all seven continents. Travel opportunities include family and student expeditions, active adventures, journeys with G Adventures, private jet trips and voyages on the six expedition ships in the National Geographic-Lindblad fleet, as well as photography workshops, expeditions and seminars. The National Geographic Travel digital group, shares its inspiring and authoritative digital content such as trip ideas, photo galleries, blogs and apps with its @NatGeoTravel community of 6.5 million. National Geographic Travel books bring readers curated travel advice, photography and insider tips. Follow National Geographic Travel @NatGeoTravel on TwitterFacebookTumblrPinterestInstagram and Google+.

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Lindblad Expeditions to Acquire Via Australis Ship for Galapagos Islands Expeditionary Cruises

Lindblad Expeditions H.oldings, Inc. is purchasing the Via Australis to be operated in the Galapagos Islands, affording guests such experiences as swimming  with sea turtle
Lindblad Expeditions H.oldings, Inc. is purchasing the Via Australis to be operated in the Galapagos Islands, affording guests such experiences as swimming with sea turtle

Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, Inc., a global leader of expedition cruises and adventure travel experiences, is purchasing the Via Australis to be operated in the Galapagos Islands.  Lindblad expects to take possession of the ship in spring 2016 and following a signification renovation will deploy the ship during the third quarter of 2016. Lindblad, which is spending $18 million to acquire the ship, plans to spend up to $10 million to refurbish and outfit it. The Via Australis will replace the National Geographic Endeavour.

“The Via Australis will be the ideal platform for our Galapagos expeditions far into the future.  Opportunities to acquire high quality expedition ships on attractive terms are infrequent so we seized this one,” said Sven Lindblad, President and CEO of Lindblad.  “The Via Australis will provide us with increased profitability on the same route through more operating days, revenue enhancement opportunities, operating efficiencies and cost savings compared to the National Geographic Endeavour.  Additionally, it will require significantly lower capital expenditures for the foreseeable future.”

“The most important elements of a Galapagos experience are the islands, the animals and the sea that surrounds them, so the ship that provides access to these things matters greatly,” Lindblad added.  “The Via Australis is ultra-efficient to operate and was built with the same sensibility that matters so much to us, with a focus on the world outside.  To that end, she has great viewing from all public spaces.  Her ability to launch and deploy landing craft is fast and seamless.  She is exceptionally quiet and maneuverable, a great asset when approaching marine life.  And I’m particularly pleased that this ship will be well received by our crew who work very hard and are critical to expedition success.”

The Via Australis will be renamed bearing the National Geographic name.  After refurbishment, some key features of the Via Australis:

  • 50 cabins: 46 double cabins and 4 single cabins.  Maximum capacity of 96 guests.
  • As the primary focus is the world outside, all public spaces are designed for maximum viewing with quick, easy access to decks to respond to bridge announcements of phenomenal sightings of nature and wildlife.
  • An open and ample top deck provides an unparalleled location for gathering, dining, relaxing and stargazing.
  • A spacious main lounge and a forward-viewing additional lounge with large windows and immediate access to the outer decks provide guests many comfortable options to relax, read or view the wildlife and scenery.
  • A fleet of Zodiacs and sea kayaks outfitted to transport guests easily into the wild, remote places being explored.  The efficient Zodiac loading platform can deploy two landing crafts at the same time in order to safely and swiftly put guests ashore, in the water, or on a cruise through the surrounding landscapes
  • A fully equipped fitness room and a wellness spa.
  • State-of-the-art A/V system for the highest quality presentations, including National Geographic photography instruction.
  • Well-appointed and improved crew quarters.

Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, Inc. is an expedition travel company that works in partnership with National Geographic to inspire people to explore and care about the planet. The organizations work in tandem to produce innovative marine expedition programs and to promote conservation and sustainable tourism around the world. The partnership’s educationally oriented voyages allow guests to interact with and learn from leading scientists, naturalists and researchers while discovering stunning natural environments, above and below the sea, through state-of-the-art exploration tools.


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Registration Opens for Parks & Trails New York’s 18th Annual 400-Mile Cycle the Erie Canal Bike Tour

Cycle the Erie riders bike on the Medina section of the trail built over a rushing creek that drops into waterfalls, with an extraordinary angled turn that displays the engineering genius of the builders © 2016 Karen Rubin/
Cycle the Erie riders bike on the Medina section of the trail built over a rushing creek that drops into waterfalls, with an extraordinary angled turn that displays the engineering genius of the builders © 2016 Karen Rubin/

Registration is now open for Parks & Trails New York’s 18th annual Cycle the Erie Canal 400-mile, eight-day bike tour, an unparalleled opportunity to experience great cycling while taking in the rich history of the legendary canal that helped transform America.

The 2016 tour kicks off in Buffalo on July 10 and arrives in Albany on July 17. This year, the Cycle the Erie Canal tour offers:

2-day and 4-day Options: If you can’t take off a full week, consider joining us for half the tour or for a weekend. With 4-day options from Buffalo to Syracuse and Syracuse to Albany, you’re halfway to becoming an Erie Canalway Trail End-to-Ender. These shorter options are great for children, too.

Return Shuttle: Riders from Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Toronto, and points west will be happy to hear we’ll once again be offering our return shuttle from Albany to Buffalo at the end of the ride. Less driving means more time to discover the Erie Canal, and there is so much to discover.

Erie Canal Trailblazers: Interested in cycling the whole tour for only $100? Become a Cycle the Erie Canal Trailblazer and help PTNY promote the Erie Canalway Trail and bicycle tourism! Registration includes a free Cycle the Erie Canal Trailblazer jersey and guidebook and special recognition on the tour. Learn more.

Last year’s ride had more than 600 riders and was frankly amazing, with all the sights to see and special activities arranged, not to mention to comradery and the adventure of camping out. The trip – superbly organized – really touches on all pistons.

For more information about Cycle the Erie Canal, call Parks & Trails New York at 518-434-1583 or email Also, check out the new Cycle the Erie Canal website to learn more about all the Erie Canalway Trail has to offer.

See our series from the 17th Annual Cycle the Erie bike tour:

Cycle the Erie Canal 400-mile tour affords extraordinary view of ‘Real America’ and slideshow

Cycle the Erie 400-Mile Bike Tour: Lockport, a Town Birthed by the Erie Canal and slideshow

Cycle the Erie ride reaches Seneca Falls, Birthplace of Women’s Rights Movement and slideshow

Cycle the Erie: National Women’s Hall of Fame personifies struggle, achievement and slideshow

Cycle the Erie: Seneca Falls to Syracuse crossing half-way mark of 400-mile tour and slideshow

Syracuse’s Erie Canal Museum Highlights Day 5 on 400-Mile Cycle the Erie Tour and slideshow

Cycle the Erie: Fort Stanwix, Rome, Brings Revolutionary War Era to Life and slideshow

Cycle the Erie: Remington Gun Museum links history to current issues and slideshow

400 miles and 400 years of history, Cycle the Erie tour crosses finish at Albany and slideshow

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