The National Park Trust, in partnership with the National Park Service (NPS), recently announced $375,1000 to fund 18 education and outdoor recreation projects through the 2023 NPS Challenge Cost Share Program. Each project connects a local community to a nearby national park, national trail, or wild and scenic river. This year’s group of awardees will engage more than 8,600 participants in active, healthy outdoor recreation and in education initiatives that increase knowledge about our nation’s natural and cultural heritage.
Timucuan Parks Foundation (TPF) received a $25,000 award that will help immerse four diverse young audiences in outdoor explorations in partnership with NPS’ Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve. TPF will use the funding to take groups of youths on outdoor adventures which will include kayaking, fishing, and a ranger-led “Hike into History.” The organization will also work with the groups on a service-learning project including trail maintenance, removal of invasive plants, shoreline clean up, and shoreline restoration. Each project will be coupled with a discussion on the resiliency, sustainability, and stewardship of the environmental and cultural resources within these natural environments.
“A key priority for Timucuan Parks Foundation and our park partners is to move our health and equity initiative forward by connecting more people to the parks, particularly non-traditional audiences who can benefit physically and mentally from being outdoors in Jacksonville’s wilderness parks and preserves,” said Felicia Boyd, program and outreach director for TPF. “We appreciate the generosity of the National Park Trust and the partnership we have with the National Park Service that allows us to design and implement inclusive programming that provides access and opportunities and healthy recreation to underserved and diverse communities.”
TPF will host four young audiences that include Groundwork Jacksonville Summer Youth Corps made up of teens from the urban core of Jacksonville; middle- and high-school boys who are being mentored by the Men of Valor organization; middle school girls from The Foundation Academy; and LGTBQ+ youth. Each group will participate in the four adventures described above and practice outdoor skills, including paddling a kayak, seining and marine studies, knot tying, casting, ethical angling, and Leave No Trace principles. They will also be introduced to the rich history of the Timucuan Preserve.
“The Challenge Cost Share Grant matches our goal of connecting the next generation of park stewards and advocates to their National Park in Jacksonville,” said Chris Hughes, superintendent, NPS Timucuan Preserve.“We are delighted to work with TPF to provide these special opportunities for our community.”
“National Park Trust is thrilled to once again partner with the National Park Service and community partners across the country to connect people of all backgrounds and abilities to national parks while engaging the newest generation of outdoor enthusiasts and stewards,” said Grace Lee, executive director of National Park Trust. “The Challenge Cost Share program is a terrific example of an initiative that leverages public and private funds to invest in communities to create sustainable partnerships that benefit parks and people.”
“We appreciate the work of local partner organizations across the nation, who are using their resources and skills to support conservation, recreation and education projects that are meaningful and impactful to their communities,” said Lauren S. Imgrund, NPS associate director for Partnerships and Civic Engagement.
About Timucuan Parks Foundation
The Timucuan Parks Foundation is a nonprofit organization that preserves, promotes and enhances Jacksonville’s natural areas through community engagement, education and enjoyment. The foundation originated in 1999 with the Preservation Project Jacksonville, Inc. to identify and assist in acquiring the most vulnerable and environmentally sensitive lands in Duval County. The acquisition of lands created the largest urban park system in the United States. The Timucuan Parks Foundation works with its park partners, including the National Park Service, Florida State Parks and the City of Jacksonville, to promote environmental stewardship, the health benefits of the parks and preserves, and an appreciation for Jacksonville’s special outdoor spaces. For more information, visit timucuanparks.org or follow @timucuanparks.
About National Park Trust
Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2023, National Park Trust’s mission is to preserve parks today and create park stewards for tomorrow. Since 1983, the Park Trust has acquired many of the missing pieces of our national parks, benefiting 52 national park sites. Our national youth education and family initiatives, including our Buddy Bison Programs and National Kids to Parks Day, serve hundreds of Title I schools annually and cultivate future park stewards. We believe that our public parks, lands and waters should be cared for, enjoyed by, and preserved by all for current and future generations. Find out more at parktrust.org.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 424 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov, and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.