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Acadia National Park and Schoodic Institute are among 32 parks and park partners to receive an Open OutDoors for Kids Hybrid Learning grant from the National Park Foundation. The grant will support the development of virtual nature clubs, family nature adventures, and virtual spring field trips.

“With support from this grant, educators at Acadia and Schoodic Institute will collaborate on an ambitious series of outdoor, place-based programs,” said Acadia National Park Superintendent Kevin Schneider. “We’re learning that it can be challenging to develop a program that is interactive and engaging through a virtual format. This grant provides us needed support in connecting parks and learners.”

Acadia and Schoodic educators already have led about 600 virtual programs since the last week of September.

With more than 400 parks across all fifty states and the U.S. territories, the NPS traditionally hosts more than 60,000 in-park and distance learning education programs annually, serving over 1.8 million students.

Recognizing that the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted how and where students are learning, National Park Foundation collaborated with the NPS to facilitate a program design workshop in September 2020 with leading experts in evaluation, digital programming, community engagement, and national park leadership to advise how to meet the needs of students, teachers, schools, and communities during these uncertain times and how lessons learned can be applied in the long-term.

The funding will provide support to create, pilot, and refine interactive programs that connect students and their families to Acadia experiences and resources:

  • Pilot weekly virtual nature clubs for grades 3-8 in a local school district
  • Create fun, educational, and socially distanced outdoor activities for families, such as scavenger hunts and pop-up self-guided trails
  • Adapt a set of spring in-person field trips to a virtual format
  • Create a new virtual program series for families and special needs audiences.

Learn more about virtual learning in Acadia.