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Challenge-Cost Share - 2011 for Children's Forest and More Kids in the Woods

On April 4, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced $1 million in 2011 cost-share funding to Children's Forest and More Kids in the Woods proposals from U.S. Forest Service units. The funding will be divided between the two types of programs. The recipients are as follows:

Children's Forest 2011

Region 1:

The Trails to Discovery:
This program will develop and enhance a network of Children’s Forest sites on the Lolo National Forest that will strengthen and expand existing youth, service and conservation education programs. The Discovery program will share resources, publicity, equipment, teacher-training, curricula, expert staff, and stewardship service-learning projects among all five Ranger Districts. The program will span a wide range of ecosystems and a broad spectrum of learning styles, and activities will range from classroom visits to multi-year on-the-ground stewardship programs. This blend of conservation education, service-learning and recreation experiences will encourage youth and families to be active outdoors and practice healthy lifestyles.

Funding: $70,996 Forest Service funding; $323,135 Partner funding



Region 2:

Peaks to Prairies: A Children’s Forest Corridor in Colorado:
The Peaks to Prairies Children’s Forest Corridor will link existing parks and nature centers in the Denver area to create a cohesive network of outdoor spaces. Utilizing the natural connector of the South Platte River, kids will journey upstream from Denver to the National Forests and downstream to the grasslands. The program seeks to convert neglected or under-utilized sites, including city parks, schoolyards, nature centers, and early childhood centers. Kids will have opportunities for unstructured play, exploration, education, and stewardship. Partners are planning to create two base camps: a physical Children’s Forest at Johnson-Habitat Park, (an abandoned park in industrial Denver), and a virtual base camp. These two base camps will be the first phase of portals in stewardship, connecting kids and families to outdoor experiences in Colorado.

Funding: $48,500 Forest Service funding; $55,775 Partner funding


Region 3:

The Southern New Mexico Children’s Forest: The Southern New Mexico Children’s Forest encompasses the Lincoln National Forest, and involves many land management agencies, educational and youth organizations, and interested individuals. It is a network of places, programs, and activities offering opportunities to explore the outdoors. Through a coalition of partners, the Children’s Forest will offer exciting educational content, shared gathering places, a strong network of educators and resource professionals, a cache of learning resources, and a centralized logistics organization for transportation, scheduling, and material delivery. The program will include strategies for administrative organization, an array of possible activities and programs, and specific actions to get started.

Funding: $70,996 Forest Service funding; $55,500 Partner funding


Region 4:

The Bridger-Teton Children’s Forest ‘Teton Ten Project’:
The Teton Ten’s mission is to increase children’s connections to nature while providing service learning, environmental education, and pivotal outdoor experiences. The Bridger-Teton National Forest (BTNF), in partnership with over 20 organizations, will provide opportunities for every local or visiting child in our community to participate in ten types of experiences that will establish the BTNF Children’s Forest.

Funding: $40,000 Forest Service funding; $20,000 Partner funding


Region 5:

Cedar Pass Children’s Forest: The Modoc National Forest proposes a Children’s Forest within the Cedar Pass Forest Health Restoration Project area. The Cedar Pass Children’s Forest will maximize the wide variety of educational resources and recreation opportunities. The primary component is an outdoor education program that will offer place-based, experiential learning in the forest environment. The project will expand each year and has the capacity to serve more than 900 students grades K-12. MNF staff has partnered with local school districts, a charter school, natural resource agencies, and community groups to expose students to service learning projects that meet state standards and incorporate forest succession and ecology, forest management, range management, fisheries, wildlife, geology and recreation. This proposal is an extension of a highly successful, 9 year-old Watershed Adoption project.

Funding: $24,000 Forest Service funding


Region 6:

Deschutes Children’s Forest: Deschutes National Forest features a robust collection of successful conservation education and youth engagement projects, reaching more than 15,000 students annually. However, it lacks a common thread that connects these programs. A Children’s Forest will bring additional structure to existing work, leverage critical resources, and reach more youth. Deschutes NF has decided to create an “umbrella” program that would incorporate existing programs and new initiatives within a network of physical places. A full-time Children’s Forest Coordinator through Discover Your Northwest (DYNW), the lead partner in the project, will help coordinate projects, develop initiatives and implement an overall strategic plan, creating more sustainable, fiscally healthy projects, and solidifying a coalition of conservation education partners.

Funding: $70,996 Forest Service funding; $860,600 Partner funding


Region 8:

Children’s Forest Initiative of the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas:
 “El Bosque de los Niños en Texas”, will use existing partnerships to develop and enhance a network of locations and delivery methods in Texas. While anchored to specific locations, The Children’s Forest in Texas (CFT) will also incorporate a mobile and virtual presence. Program development will be guided by current U.S. Forest Service and partner initiatives. Programs will incorporate science-based education, on-site service learning, health awareness, career and leadership development, mentor training and community conservation education. The CFT will be managed by the Friends of the National Forests and Grasslands of Texas - Latino Legacy-Amigos del Bosque program, a non-profit conservation education and forest restoration program. Friends of the NFGT have proven successes in utilizing both multicultural and multigenerational approaches to reach broad and diverse communities. The CFT will have the support of many partnering organizations, such as the NFGT Multicultural Advisory Committee, the Texas Forest Service and Treetops in the Forest.

Funding: $70,996 Forest Service funding; $323,135 Partner funding


Region 9:

Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest Children’s Forest:
The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest will utilize MKIW funds for the development and fielding of interactive media, signage, and promotional materials to facilitate the designation of a new Children’s Forest on part of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. This funding will provide recognition for a strong partnership that has provided experiential outdoor learning experiences for youth for over 12 years. It will also stimulate new partnerships and cooperation to further the goals of the Children’s Forest Network.

Funding: $55,996 Forest Service funding; $250,000 Partner funding


Region 10:

Tongass National Forest Children’s Forest: This project will designate the Tongass National Forest as a Children’s Forest. Programs will include over 20 interpretive and educational programs and projects already being conducted, and add two new projects linking underserved audiences in small towns and villages with Alaska Native peoples: a historic Ranger Boat “network” to deliver key messages and activities; and a bridging activity celebrating the International Year of Forests called the Forest of Words, which solicits literature and art from young people about the woods that are their “backyard.” Kids that live in southeast Alaska were born to the outdoors; they also appreciate the value of technology, and its ability to span great distances. And they are deeply bound by family and community traditions.To instill a value for these experiences is at the core of the Children’s Forest on the Tongass.

Funding: $31,500 Forest Service funding; $229,500 Partner funding

More Kids in the Woods 2011 Challenge-Cost Share Recipients

Region 1:

Outdoor Explorers Mentoring Program
This program will foster life-long engagement of communities with nature and provide stepping stones to inspire the next generation of natural resource professionals by connecting underserved youth with the wild places in their backyard through intergenerational, place-based outdoor adventures and service learning projects. University students skilled in outdoor pursuits will plan and lead outdoor adventures for Big Brothers Big Sisters mentors and their Littles (6- to 14-year olds, 63 percent living at or below poverty level, 25 percent have an incarcerated parent, 75 percent from single parent households, 12 percent Native American, Hispanic, or Asian Pacific Islander). Other partners providing resources, instructional support and/or program coordination include the Montana Conservation Corps, Salish Kootenai College, Society for Wilderness Stewardship and the interagency Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center.

Funding: $18,000 Forest Service funding; $18,388 Partner funding


Discover the Bitterroot Outdoor Day Camp
Discover the Bitterroot Outdoor Day Camp will offer preschool through 8th grade students in northern Ravalli County the opportunity to participate in educational, recreational, and skill-building activities. Students will increase their success in school and improve their decision making skills, while being immersed in the natural world of federal lands and wildlife refuges. The camp will provide a variety of experiences that will strengthen literacy, math, science, and understanding of technology. At the same time, the camp will incorporate creative arts as well as exercise to improve fitness. Partnerships with public agencies, private companies, and the Montana University System will ensure high quality instruction, create access to facilities and equipment, and ensure that all children who participate have fun while experiencing numerous learning opportunities.

Funding: $8,783 Forest Service funding, $41,014 Partner funding


Region 2:

After School Kids in the Woods
After School Kids in the Woods program is a year-round partnership between BHNF Northern Hills RD and BFACC Oasis After School Program and 10 additional partners. Rangers will provide monthly outdoor experiences including forest recreation field trips and camping opportunities for 150 grade school students in the Northern Black Hills. The program includes 3 overnight camps with ranger instruction on orienteering, wildlife biology, Leave No Trace Camping, camp and campfire safety, forest fire prevention, botany, hiking, canoeing, ecology, stewardship, conservation, and archaeology. Resource totes will be created to allow continual learning through a lending library provided by the after school program.

Funding: $14,840 Forest Service funding; $20,370 Partner funding


Environmental Outreach Program- Aquatic Health
The Grand Mesa-Uncompahgre-Gunnison National Forests project will assist students from Delta Middle School in learning about the natural environment through an outreach program that will get students out of the classroom to learn about aquatic ecosystems. Approximately 130 students will perform water quality and habitat sampling on local streams across the Forest. Data obtained through the program will supplement multi-party monitoring efforts being conducted through the Collaborative Forest Restoration Grant recently obtained by the GMUG NF's. MKIW funding will provide habitat and water quality sampling equipment for 7-8 kits. Once the kits have been assembled and the protocol finalized, this will be an ongoing program for years to come.

Funding: $7,500 Forest Service funding, $7,500 Partner funding


In 2007, there were pressing questions about trout movement near Dubois, WY and limited funding to find answers. With the help of Trout Unlimited, Shoshone National Forest, Wyoming Game and Fish, and Fremont County School District No. 2, a pilot project was developed linking students, science, and the natural world. The objective of the project was to implant radio tracking devices in trout and train students to track and gather data on the tagged fish. TU, SNF, and WGF provided funding and expertise to get the project off the ground, culminating in a group capture effort where students learned about stream ecology, aquatic invertebrates, local trout species, and fly fishing. With current MKIW funding, the program will be able to take the next steps to continue and expand. Along with the Dubois program, TU, SNF, and WGF have initiated a program in Cody, WY, and plan to expand to Meeteetse, WY.

Funding: $5,000 Forest Service funding, $5,000 Partner funding


Region 3:

Flagstaff in the Woods
Flagstaff in the Woods is a multifaceted outdoor environmental education program designed to provide more than 7,000 community members (students, teachers, families and adults), the opportunity to learn about their environment while being inspired to be outdoors. Part I, “Students in the Woods,” involves local scientists who will partner with the Willow Bend Environmental Education Center to visit classrooms and teach students about biodiversity and sustainability. Part II, “Families in the Woods” invites families to participate in outdoor learning experiences both at the WBEEC and through exploration of local parks. Part III focuses on “Teachers in the Woods.” The WBEEC and FS will offer Biodiversity Bootcamp to public school teachers for professional development in environmental science through a four-day session with FS scientists. Part IV will provide “Community in the Woods” , outdoor environmental education programs conducted by WBEEC and The Friends of Coconino County Parks and Recreation for the community through five weekend nature walks, and a Snow-lympics Community Event with structured and safe snow play.

Funding: $35,000 Forest Service funding, $70,730 Partner funding


Children Exploration of Central Arizona Habitat CECAH
This project will provide site-based programs to need based classes using college curriculum and Arizona State Science standards which correlate to K-14 grade science classes. In addition to structured educational classes in watershed hydrology, wildlife, plants, soil, forestry, range, minerals, recreation, and outdoor skills, students will work in cooperative work groups. Activities will engage students with hands-on archaeology through excavations and artifact analysis, and field based programs for cultural site assessment on the Tonto National Forest, Gila Pueblo, Tonto National Monument, and Besh Ba Gowah Salado Pueblo. Native speakers of San Carlos Apache Tribe will provide their perspective of preserving cultural sites on public lands. Activities will include: study of local prehistoric cultures and relationship with natural habitat, formation of natural resource educational clubs, and use of current monitoring technologies.

Funding: $45,950 Forest Service funding, $55,000 Partner funding


Region 4:

Experience Your Abilities
MKIW funding will help the Experience Your Abilities Program (EYAP) to provide an inclusive wilderness camp for children, 6 to 15 years old, with and without disabilities. Through this inclusive camp, 400 children will explore the Unita-Wasatch-Cache National Forests, building life-time outdoor adventure competencies. EYAP activities will include camping, canoeing, horseback riding, rock climbing, nature interpretation, skiing, and snowshoeing. An additional planned outcome is to develop a best practice or “More Inclusive Kids in the Woods” program in cooperation with Splore, a USFS permittee which utilizes the national forest to provide affordable, customized and inclusive recreation and education programs for individuals of all abilities. Other partners involved in the program include: Cottonwood Canyons Foundation and REI.

Funding: $24,200 Forest Service funding, $24,200 Partner funding


Color Country Outdoor Youth Initiative
The Color Country Outdoor Youth Initiative will provide opportunities for youth in nature-based outdoor education programs in southwestern Utah. The Cedar Mountain Science Camp has served over 2,500 elementary youth since its beginning in 1995. The Color County Natural Resource Camp serves close to 500 high school youth in a week long natural resource camp each year. Through a strengthened partnership and More Kids in the Woods funding, the Color Country Outdoor Youth can increase opportunities for youth to attend the Cedar Mountain Science Camp (almost 300 kids were turned away in 2010), and create a much needed middle school program. This partnership with Southern Utah University, local/state/federal government, private, tribal, and non-profit agencies cultivates rich learning opportunities for youth and a continuous program of nature-based education for youth at the elementary level to young adults at the university level.

Funding: $33,000 Forest Service funding, $105,000 Partner funding


Region 5:

“Starts with a Seed” Program
This Program will positively influence two charter schools on Hawaii Island as well as local elementary schools, by increasing environmental literacy, and providing information for thoughtful life-style choices. In addition, the program will provide a source of native plants for local restoration efforts and help connect communities throughout Northeast Hawai'i and urban Oahu. The State of Hawaii public charter schools will provide places to grow (greenhouses), locations for workshops, vans and buses for field/service learning trips, cultural knowledge, and time/energy to build and refurbish greenhouses. Government and watershed partners will contribute scientific knowledge, access to forests, and forest restoration sites. The program will demonstrate increased “grow” literacy for participants, through field based learning which will encompass greenhouse activities, and workshops which reinforce and integrate current forest restoration practices with Hawaiian culture.

Funding: $33,000 Forest Service funding, $40,000 Partner funding


Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) Program Summer Camp
GREAT Camp helps youth to become good citizens and environmental stewards. Community Services & Employment Training has partnered with the Forest Service since 1976 to hold summer camps for at-risk youth and meet the conservation needs of our national forests. This is the first camping experience for almost all of the youth, who come from extremely poor, rural, predominantly Hispanic, agricultural-based communities throughout Tulare County. Camp is an intense service-learning experience available to students who have successfully completed the GREAT curriculum at their school. The Camps teach at-risk youth in 4th to 6th grades about natural resources, conservation, environmental stewardship, and leadership skills during a five-day experience. For each of the past two summers, CSET has partnered with the FS and Tulare County Probation Department’s GREAT Program to provide camping opportunities for almost 100 local youth.

Funding: $33,000 Forest Service funding; $41,120 Partner funding


Region 6:

Southern Oregon Discovery Adventures and Stewardship
Southern Oregon Discovery Adventures and Stewardship is a program of the Discovery School at South Medford High School that enables students over a three-year period to participate in outdoor education as an integral part of the everyday curriculum. The program promotes understanding of the local environment and societal effects, physical activity and the importance of healthy lifestyles, stewardship and service learning within local communities and environmental awareness and “literacy,” including sustainability concepts. Discovery School was established in 2006 as one of four small learning communities within South Medford HS after restructuring under the guidance of the Gates’ Foundation and Oregon E3. Discovery School students strive to make a difference in society and the environment by engaging with and exploring the region in which they live.

Funding: $12,975 Forest Service funding, $17,135 Partner funding


Mount St. Helens Youth Stream Team
The Mount St. Helens Youth Stream Team project engages underserved youth ages 8 to 18 in critical monitoring and restoration work on two river systems adjacent to the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. Forest Service fisheries biologists are working on multi-year projects to restore habitat on the Upper Lewis River system and the Muddy River systems to ensure that the re-introduction of anadromous fish is successful. Youth Stream Team participants will assist the FS one day per week for the duration of the summer, with the primary goal of learning the importance of sustainable resource management. In addition, these underserved youth will have the opportunity to make a visible difference on their public lands. The Monument developed partnerships with the Mount St. Helens Institute and the Vancouver Police Activities League in 2009 to successfully pilot the Youth Stream Team project. In 2011, the program will expand to include the NAACP- Gifford Pinchot National Forest Urban Youth Program, thus, reaching more youth to accomplish more work on the Monument.

Funding: $27,500 Forest Service funding, $41,300 Partner funding


Tripod: A Landscape for Learning
Following a program piloted in 2007, the Tripod Fire will provide an outdoor classroom for kids to learn from natural resource professionals as they monitor the fire affected landscape, and experience the camping, fishing and storytelling around the camp fire. The program will serve 100 underserved students from GEAR UP to monitor fire impacted sites throughout the course of the next two years. The partners involved in the project include the Colville Confederated Tribes, three non-profits, two colleges, two other natural resource agencies and community volunteers who will all be involved to teach the students about ecological process, monitoring techniques, to model an appreciation of the outdoors, and to just let the kids be kids.

Funding: $10,890 Forest Service funding, $14,250 Partner funding


Region 8:

Soccer Kids into the Woods
This project will bring soccer players into the woods to play in nature, learn unique training activities, and then teach others. There are four levels of involvement with increasing numbers of participants and children reached in each level. The first level will involve 25 soccer players who have traveled to Tanzania, Africa to host athletic activities to teach, less fortunate children in their natural setting. A video will capture kids playing soccer and environmental conditions experienced while helping children in 2 African villages. Participants will return to Kentucky and serve as ambassadors and teachers in soccer training camps to share resource issues and observations such as clean water, deforestation, wildlife conservation and the unique outdoor activities of children in Africa. During a regional Water Appreciation Day, kids will instruct others on the value of pure water -its conservation its benefits for hydration and health and the importance of plastic bottle recycling.

Funding: $36,400 Forest Service funding, $432,500 Partner funding


C.L.E.A.N.- Children Living Energetically Advancing Nature Challenge
Through support of MKIW funding and the Greening Youth Foundation,, the C.L.E.A.N. project will provide up to 200 students hands-on outdoor education experiences at the Chattahoochee Nature Center, Fernbank Forest, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Park Service Site, and the Chattahoochee National Forest. The foundation conducts programs to reduce environmental footprints and stimulate wellness awareness by utilizing its C.L.E.A.N. program. The foundation works closely with urban public school communities mobilizing parents, teachers and administrators to promote school and community cultures that value the environment and the health of our youth in elementary, middle, and high schools. After these transformative experiences provided through the C.L.E.A.N. Initiative and its National Park Service and Forest Service partners, high school graduates and young adults will be equipped to serve as the next generation of global environmental leaders.

Funding: $50,000 Forest Service funding, $113,320 Partner funding


Region 9:

Step Up North
The Step Up North project represents a multi-year strategy bringing together several existing and new efforts to mentor youth and families in underserved, multicultural communities in the Minneapolis-St Paul metro area to build and benefit from connections to the outdoors. The Superior NF will partner with Ce Tempoxcalli and the Multicultural Indigenous Academy; two partners with a long history of coordination with other programs, nature centers and organizations in the metro area focused on events to increase environmental awareness, leadership and stewardship. A stepped approach will prepare participants with basic skills, emphasizing leadership and stewardship through activities in their community and forest trips involving experiential learning and service projects. During Forest visits, participants will spend time with Forest staff and meet with students and local community members to discuss and focus on values and perspectives around natural forests and their resources. Ce Tempoxcalli and the Academy serve a mixed population including Hmong, Native American, Latino, African American, Asian, and Middle-Eastern with particular outreach to at-risk teens. Their unique approach to environmental education through connections with various ethnic traditions while building mutual respect for cultural differences among participating youth and other community members provides a strong foundation to move forward to the next logical Step Up North to the Forest.

Funding: $20,000 Forest Service funding, $27,000 Partner funding


Northern Research Station:

Partnership of U.S. Forest Service, Northern Research Station and the University of New Hampshire to bring rural and urban youth to Environmental & Forestry Sciences
Northern Research Station scientists will partner with school districts in New Hampshire to engage talented high school students from underserved youth from inner-city schools in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York; rural districts in New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and Alaska; and a few students from Greece and Turkey in environmental and forestry education to attend Project SMART Summer Institute – 2011 at the University of New Hampshire. Of the 60 to 70 students, 20 will conduct research and monitoring of terrestrial and aquatic systems in the White Mountains and study topics involving forest management practices, climate change and its impact on forest productivity, and monitor forest health using ground and remote sensing techniques. This will be a unique opportunity for Forest Service scientists to reach out to students from diverse backgrounds at an age when they make serious decisions about higher education and careers to possibly consider forestry and environmental sciences as areas of higher studies. The students will continue research projects during the academic year, and will present their findings at regional high school science symposia to compete for tuition scholarships.

Funding: $30,000 Forest Service funding, $52,000 Partner funding


Region 10:

Forest Ranger Academy- Engaging youth in the Chugach Children’s Forest
The Forest Ranger Academy project will involve two partners, Anchorage School District and Alaska Geographic and will engage 600 underserved third grade students with a Forest Service educator. Students will participate in one hour sessions followed by a field trip on the Chugach National Forest to Portage Valley and the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center. The field trip will have two components including an indoor activity and a snowshoe hike. Both the in-class session and field trip segments will engage the students in science-based activities and experiments and increase their awareness and connection with nature while participating in healthy, physical activity outdoors. Additionally, 180 underserved 5th grade students will participate in this program as a new offering developed with Anchorage School District. This new unit, known as Wildlife Ranger, will maintain the same engaging activities with a focus on Alaska fauna.

Funding: $11,380 Forest Service funding, $17,680 Partner funding


Youth Media Training in Alaska’s Children’s Forests
The Chugach and Tongass National Forests will continue partnering with the Alaska Teen Media Institute to train youth engaged in outdoor and environmental education programs in developing audio and video productions of their experiences in Alaska's National Forests. The training not only enhances each youth's experience by exposing them to new technologies and career opportunities, but harnesses youthful energy and creativity to increase broader public awareness, understanding and benefits of Alaska's forests. To allow efficient use of resources and sustainability over the long-term as well as reaching the maximum number of youth, the training will be integrated with existing programs in Alaska, primarily through the Children’s Forest initiative and its existing emphasis areas, budget direction and staff commitments.

Funding: $13,600 Forest Service funding, $13,600 Partner funding


International Institute of Tropical Forestry:

Forest, Nature, and a Purpose, the adventure begins!
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder kids typically have low self-esteem, troubled relationships, and poor performance in school. The project will use forests as a means to improve concentration, modify behavior, improve social relationships, and increase self-esteem of the young people. The 100 selected participants will visit four forests, one managed by the Forest Service and the other three managed by the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources. The International Institute of Tropical Forestry, in conjunction with the Puerto Rico Department of Education, Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, Department of Recreation and Sports and the University of Puerto Rico Psychology Department will join other organizations dedicated to providing services to kids diagnosed with ADHD to host specialized camping/therapy activities for 200 kids. Participants will spend a weekend on each forest camping, hiking, playing environmental games, and attending yoga and therapy sessions designed for the kids by psychology professionals.

Funding: $35,000 Forest Service funding; $50,000 Partner funding


US Forest Service
Last modified March 29, 2013

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