From sea to shining sea, our country is home to gorgeous landscapes, vibrant waterways and historic treasures. But right now, young people are spending more time in front of screens than outside.
President Obama is committed to giving every child the chance to explore America’s great outdoors and unique history. That’s why he launched the Every Kid in a Park initiative, which enables every U.S. 4th grader and his or her family to have free access to national wildlife refuges, national parks, national forests and other federal lands and waters for an entire year.
Why 4th graders? Research shows that children ages 9-11 are at a unique stage in their learning where they begin to understand in more concrete ways how the world around them works. They are most likely to have positive attitudes towards nature, the environment and culture and to grow into the next generation of stewards.
How can a 4th grader obtain fee-free access to a public land?
Any 4th grader (including home schooled and free choice learners age 9-11 years old) can obtain their fee-free access by visiting the Every Kid in a Park website, where they can participate in an educational activity and be awarded their own paper voucher with a personalized voucher number, which they can print and use at any federal public land or water. If desired, the paper voucher can be exchanged for an Interagency Annual 4th grade pass at a federal recreation site. These locations will only issue a pass with the exchange of a valid paper voucher and when the 4th grader (the pass owner) is present. Federal recreation site locations can be found at https://store.usgs.gov/pass/PassIssuanceList.pdf. The 4th grader can use either the paper voucher or the pass for fee-free entry. The voucher and pass will be valid from September 1, 2015 through August 31, 2016.
How can Educators get the fee-free access for their 4th graders?
Educators can gain fee-free access for their students by visiting the Every Kid in a Park website www.everykidinapark.gov and entering the “Educators” section, where they can download the personalized paper vouchers for each of their students. Please note each voucher contains a unique voucher number bar code. Duplicates or photocopies will not be valid. Educators will also find downloadable learning activities, aligned with standards that can be used to introduce 4th graders to topics surrounding federal lands and waters.
Who qualifies as an “Educator”?
Educators include teachers, youth group leaders, religious group leaders, camp directors, afterschool programs, leaders of homeschoolers, etc. and any adult comfortable preparing, leading and completing the educational activity associated with accessing the vouchers.
Who can accompany the 4th grader?
The Every Kid in a Park paper voucher and/or pass admits the 4th grader and any accompanying passengers in a private non-commercial vehicle at per vehicle fee areas, or the pass owner and up to three accompanying adults at sites that charge per person. If the child and their family are riding bikes, up to three adults are included. Please note that 4th graders must be present at entry.
What does the fee-free entry include?
Available beginning September 1, 2015, and valid through August 31, 2016, both the paper voucher and pass include fee-free access for one year to all federal parks, forests, national wildlife refuges and other federal lands and waters, including:
a. Bureau of Land Management
b. Bureau of Reclamation
c. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
d. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
e. National Park Service
f. US Army Corps of Engineers
g. U.S. Forest Service
The paper voucher and pass do not cover “expanded amenity” fees such as camping, boat launching,
parking, special tours, special permits or ferries. In addition, at some locations private concessionaires and
resorts manage some facilities and activities. Neither the paper voucher nor pass is valid for these services.
For questions about particular sites’ pass acceptance and fees, please contact the site directly.
How does this effort relate to the Secretary of the Interior’s overall youth initiative?
Launched in 2013, Secretary Jewell’s youth initiative strives to engage the next generation in
opportunities to play, learn, serve and work on our public lands. The Every Kid in a Park initiative builds
off the success of the Secretary’s aim to reach millions of young people and connect them to the outdoors,
and helps bring added partners and visibility to these efforts.
How does a 4th grader receive fee-free entry at an unstaffed federal recreation site?
At unstaffed federal recreation sites where entrance or standard amenity fees are charged, either the paper
voucher or the pass should be displayed in the dash area of your vehicle. If the 4th grader has a pass – it
should be displayed from the rear view mirror using an available hangtag. If the 4th grader has a paper
voucher – it should be placed on the car dashboard with the tracking number showing.
What happens if a voucher or pass is lost?
A new voucher may be obtained by going to the Every Kid in a Park website at and following the same
steps previously used to receive a new voucher. If desired, the voucher can then be exchanged for the 4th
grader pass. A digital or a photocopy of the voucher or pass is not valid.
What role might civic organizations and non-profit partners play in the initiative?
Educators and partners can support the Every Kid in a Park initiative by spreading the word about the
program, engaging and supporting community members in field trips and outings to federal public lands
and waters and connecting to the Every Kid in a Park social media sites.
Can a local site offer the group passes or paper vouchers to a field trip group?
Field trip groups should visit the “Educator’s” section of the Every Kid in a Park website to learn how
they can download vouchers for the group. The pass can only be issued in exchange for a valid Every Kid
in a Park paper voucher when the 4th grader (the pass owner) is present.