State will Double Funds for Program that Spurred 750 Field Trips in First Year New Creekside Classroom at Saratoga Spa State Park Opens to Public
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced New York State has doubled the funding for its Connect Kids to Parks field trip grant program, increasing from $500,000 to $1 million to support more educational visits to state parks, historic sites and public lands. The Connect Kids to Parks field trip grant program offers state grants to public schools in Title 1 districts throughout New York State to fund field trips to state parks and historic sites for environmental, historical and physical education programming. In its first year, the program funded nearly 750 field trips, serving nearly 30,000 public school children from Title 1 school districts throughout the state.
"This program creates opportunities for many young New Yorkers to expand their horizons and explore the unparalleled natural beauty of state parks in every corner of this state," Governor Cuomo said. "Building upon our past success, we will continue to introduce more New York youth to the world-class parks in their own backyards and help connect the next generation of environmental stewards to the great outdoors."
The announcement was made as school groups from Geyser Road Elementary School in Saratoga Springs and Jesse T. Zoller Elementary School in Schenectady visited the new $667,000 "Creekside Classroom" at Saratoga Spa State Park.
Applications for year two will be available on July 1. Funding for Connect Kids to Parks Field Trip Grant program comes from the state Environmental Protection Fund's enhanced Environmental Justice programming approved in the 2017-18 State Budget. Information on the grant program is available here.
New York State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said, "The New York State park system is an exceptional place for students to learn memorable lessons about science, the environment and history. Through the support of Governor Cuomo’s NY Parks 2020 program, we can continue to inspire a new generation of environmental stewards by revitalizing our state park system and expanding the opportunities for both children and adults to further connect with nature."
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "As children today are becoming disconnected from nature, Governor Cuomo is committed to introducing more New Yorkers to the great outdoors. Through his sustained $300 million investment in the Environmental Protection Fund, the Creekside Classroom and Connect Kids to Parks Field Trip programs will help introduce kids, particularly those living in Environmental Justice communities with limited access to the outdoors, to the natural world around them and inspire the next generation of environmental stewards and conservation leaders."
Commissioner Harvey also unveiled the new Creekside Classroom at Saratoga Spa State Park, which complements New York State’s efforts to encourage more school field trips to parks, historic sites and public lands for hands-on educational programs.
The new, multi-purpose facility provides a new classroom space for the park’s environmental and docent programs. The $667,000 project transformed an old comfort station into a new 2,350 square-foot classroom space for the park’s environmental education programs. Added interpretive signage and maps of the park provide another level of orienteering and information for the 2 million park visitors annually. Additionally, the project includes an outdoor fire ring with seating, a rain garden area, benches, and can serve as a warming hut during the winter months. The classroom provides the necessary multi-purpose space to host school groups and outside groups for all types of programming and training events. Funding for the project was made available through Governor Cuomo’s NY Parks 2020 Program.
State Senator Kathy Marchione, a member of the Senate's Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks And Recreation Committee said, "In a State Park system that is the envy of our nation, Saratoga Spa State Park stands out as a community treasure whose benefits are priceless. Connecting kids with the natural beauty and rich history of Saratoga Spa State Park will provide an incredible, one of a kind learning experience to inspire imaginations, open a world of possibilities and connect more kids with New York's great outdoors. I am thrilled that Geyser Road Elementary School students will be able to experience and enjoy the new Creekside Classroom firsthand. I want to thank Governor Cuomo, and State Parks Commissioner Harvey, for this terrific, innovative program showcasing some of the very best of our Saratoga community."
Senator Jim Tedisco said, "This new Creekside Classroom will give children an opportunity for hands-on learning about nature and the environment while spending time at our beautiful Saratoga Spa State Park which is such a jewel for our area. Thanks to the Governor and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for making this educational investment to benefit the 49th Senate District and our entire state."
Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner said, "The Saratoga Spa State Park is an invaluable environmental, educational, and economic asset to the Saratoga Springs and Capital Region communities. I am confident that the programmatic space and resources provided by the park's new Creekside Classroom will benefit local community members and visitors alike, and I thank Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Harvey for their leadership in developing the NY Parks 2020 Program."
State Parks will continue to accept the Every-Kid-In-A-Park pass for the upcoming season. The pass provides free State Park day-use entry to all fourth-grade students and their families as long as the fourth grader is present in the vehicle. For more information about the program and to obtain your pass, please visit: https://parks.ny.gov/environment/connect-kids.aspx.
Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York State is making a historic commitment to improving and expanding access to outdoor recreation. The Governor's NY Parks 2020 program is a multi-year commitment to leverage $900 million in private and public funding for State Parks from 2011 to 2020.