Public libraries to promote free access to federal lands and waters for fourth graders

For Immediate Release
Thu, 09/03/2015


Kara O'Keefe

Manager, Membership Marketing


CHICAGO – The Public Library Association (PLA) is proud to help launch the Every Kid in a Park program, as part of President Obama’s commitment to protect our nation’s unique outdoor spaces and ensure that every American has the opportunity to visit and enjoy them.

Fourth graders nationwide can now visit the new Every Kid in a Park website to obtain a pass that provides free access to students and their families to all federally managed lands and waters – including national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and marine sanctuaries. The pass is valid for the 2015-2016 school year and grants free entry for fourth graders and three accompanying adults (or an entire car for drive-in parks) at more than 2,000 federally-managed sites.

“Public libraries are a natural partner for the Every Kid in a Park program," said PLA President Vailey Oehlke. “Libraries are places where people come to learn about and connect with their communities, and the people who work in public libraries are excited to work with families to help young people access passes, discover exciting places to visit and plan their adventures.”

Leading up to the 100th birthday of the National Park Service in 2016, President Obama launched the Every Kid in a Park initiative earlier this year as a call to action to get all children to experience America’s unparalleled outdoors, rich history and culture. Today, more than 80 percent of American families live in urban areas, and many lack easy access to safe outdoor spaces. At the same time, youth spend more hours than ever in front of screens instead of outside.

Fourth graders can log onto the website at and complete a fun educational activity in order to obtain and print their pass. Students can also trade in their paper pass for a more durable pass at participating federal sites nationwide. Parents visiting the new website can find additional links for more information on planning trips to nearby public lands.  

Public librarians nationwide can help families access the Every Kid in a Park web site, learn about the federal lands and waters, and plan educational activities that teach communities about their regional National Monuments, local history, the environment, conservation, and more.  Through the site, public librarians can access educational activities, field trip options, and the ability to print passes for their patrons. PLA members are encouraged to visit and download these Every Kid in a Park posters in English and Spanish to display in their libraries. 

The Every Kid in a Park program is an Administration-wide effort administered in partnership with the Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Education, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Every Kid in a Park program is designed to continue each year with the then-current group of fourth graders. After twelve years, every school-age child in America will have had an opportunity to visit their public land and waters for free, inspiring the next generation to be stewards of our nation’s shared natural and cultural heritage.

PLA members who are already working with national parks, forests, public lands and waters are encouraged to contact Scott Allen, PLA program manager, at (312) 280-5858 or to share information on their activities. For more information, please visit, and follow the program on Twitter @everykidinapark, on Facebook, on Instagram and Youtube.

The Public Library Association (PLA) is a division of the American Library Association. PLA’s core purpose is to strengthen public libraries and their contribution to the communities they serve. Its mission is to enhance the development and effectiveness of public library staff and public library services.

For more information about PLA, contact the PLA office at 1 (800) 545-2433, ext.5PLA, or