The Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES) recently handed out hundreds of free National Parks passes to elementary students in Aspen, Basalt and Glenwood Springs.
The local nonprofit worked through President Obama’s “Every Kid in a Park” initiative, which provides 4th graders and their families free access to National Parks for a year.
“Getting kids outdoors with their families is what leads to adults having a strong environmental ethic that they act on,” said Arin Trook, education director for ACES.
This year, ACES distributed 333 passes to students at Aspen, Basalt and Crystal River elementary schools, where the organization’s educators teach regular environmental education classes. Spending time in these diverse ecosystems allows kids to put what they have learned in the classroom into practice, and free passes might be just the ticket.
“A $20 entrance fee to a National Park is a significant barrier for a lot of families,” Trook said.
ACES plans to track how many students use the passes and where, and the nonprofit will share this information with the National Parks Service to help improve the program.