On Sept. 1, families of fourth graders in the U.S. hit a lottery of sorts. As part of President Obama’s “Every Kid in a Park” initiative, all fourth-grade students and their families will receive a year’s access to national park and other federally managed lands.

Qualifying families can obtain the pass at www.everykidinapark.gov

The pass is the equivalent of the annual interagency pass, “America the Beautiful,” available for $80, plus other discounted price points for seniors and veterans.

“Every Kid in a Park” offers access to units and public lands managed by the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Forest Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The program coordinates with the upcoming centennial of the National Park Service on Aug. 25, 2016. It also builds on a movement to stem the downturn in attendance, as well as stewardship, in public lands by younger generation, particularly millennials.

Fourth graders were targeted because research shows at ages 9-11, children are at a unique developmental stage in which are are receptive to new ideas and most likely to hold positive attitudes toward nature and the environment.

The outreach to youth also is in response to the fact that 80 percent of American families live in urban settings, many with problematic access to the outdoors. The increased tethering to electronic devises also has been a red flag for waning interest in nature.

At www.everykidinapark.gov, fourth graders receive a personalized paper pass to print and bring with them to visit public lands. At certain participating sites, fourth graders can also exchange the paper pass for a durable plastic Interagency Annual 4th Grade Pass. Fourth graders must be present for free entry into parks and to exchange the paper pass for a plastic one. The paper or plastic passes will be valid from September 1, 2015, through August 31, 2016.

The Every Kid in a Park pass admits the fourth grader and any accompanying passengers in a private, non-commercial vehicle at per vehicle fee areas, or the pass owner and
up to three accompanying adults at sites that charge per person.