Students Head Back to School – and Back to Nature

Students and Teachers Discover Local Parks and Earn Service Hours on National Public Lands Day, Sept. 24

Washington, D.C. – Millions of students, teachers and scout leaders around the country are preparing to go back to school – and many are also planning a return to the outdoors. On Saturday, September 24th, more than 170,000 Americans will volunteer across the country on National Public Lands Day (NPLD). Students from elementary school to college are signing up to build trails, remove invasive plants and trash, paint signs, beautify landscapes, and more on America’s public lands.

“Every year, Boy and Girl Scout troops from Massachusetts to Alaska play a major role in making NPLD a success – and this year is no exception,” said Robb Hampton, program director for NPLD, a program of the National Environmental Education Foundation. “Students from public and private schools, 4-H groups and colleges, like the University of Illinois and Middle Tennessee State University, have also committed their time.”

Events held at city and county parks, neighborhood green spaces, wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and coastal areas are expected to draw the largest crowds in the program’s history.

“In addition to the time and energy volunteers put into making parks better, NPLD is about introducing young people and adults to the opportunities public lands offer for them to be active and to give back to their communities,” said Hampton. “For example, one teacher in Oregon has had her 6th grade students involved for the last five years planting trees and picking up litter near an historic hydropower site.”

As the nation’s largest one-day volunteer event in support of public lands, NPLD hosts more than 2,000 sites in all 50 states and the District of Columbia with a wide array of activities. Volunteers’ one-day efforts will equal more than $15 million in improvements.

“Every year, students and scouts apply the time they spend volunteering during NPLD toward service hours and scouting badges,” said Hampton. “Students receive credit, but they also have the chance to spend time outdoors, be active and work with their neighbors and friends.”

NPLD is also a fee-free day in many federally managed lands, and volunteers who participate are given coupons for a second free entry into a national park or other federal public land.

“Public lands can be anything from a small playground downtown to a sprawling national park. The size and scope of the land is as immense as the natural resources and family and recreation activities available to visitors,” added Hampton. “They are in every community for all people to enjoy, and are the responsibility of every citizen as well.”

To find a site, or register a new site near you, visit www.publiclandsday.org.

Note: Call/email contact for help finding local NPLD groups, schools and parks: Amber Taylor,  amber@sambertaylor.com or (703) 201-4893

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