JBRPC Receives Grant to Offer Free School Field Trips

Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC) and partners, Gateway National Recreation Area and New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium have received an Open Outdoors for Kids (OOK) grant from the National Parks Foundation to offer virtual and on-site educational programs. JBRPC’s education programs prioritize NYC public school students, with a focus on 4th-grade students across City School Districts 18, 19, 22, 23, 27, 28, and 29.

Thanks, in part, to the National Park Foundation, NYC public schools are eligible for free, in-park field trips, guided by JBRPC educators, exploring Rockaway Beach and Jamaica Bay ecology, through activities like birdwatching and species ID, and stewarding the parks through supervised shoreline cleanups. The OOK program is one of JBRPC’s robust educational offerings, which are additionally supported with funding designated by individual members of NYC Council, NY State Assembly, and the New York Senate.

JBRPC field trips take place throughout the school year from September to June. The goal of JBRPC field trips is to introduce students in underserved communities to the vast parklands scattered throughout Brooklyn and Queens, along the Jamaica Bay and Rockaway Beach shorelines. Field trips are held at Rockaway Beach, Rockaway Community Park, Canarsie Pier, Marine Park, and occasionally Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. JBRPC lesson plans utilize Social Emotional Learning (SEL) methodologies to support the development of social and emotional skills in young learners, teaching them to be resilient, cope with challenges, and work effectively and cooperatively with others in different settings.

JBRPC’s OOK program, From City to Sea, is a comprehensive, hybrid program combining unique asynchronous resources, guided in-park field trips, and a virtual session with a JBRPC educator. During the 2022-23 school year, JBRPC engaged more than 4,000 students from 22 NYC public schools, over the span of 155 educational field trips that were made possible in part by the National Park Foundation.

The National Park Foundation’s Open Outdoors for Kids program builds on a child’s innate wonder and curiosity of the natural world, immersing students in national parks through field trips, classroom engagements, and educational activities.

Delilah Florentino, JBRPC’s Education Programs Manager, shares, “We are thrilled to continue to engage local students, educators, and chaperones in field trips that highlight the ecological diversity of local parklands and inspire them to be stewards of these public lands in their communities. Students leave our shoreline clean-up programs with a deeper understanding of the impacts of marine debris on wildlife and human health, a practical action that can be taken to combat this threat, and a sense of achievement after the weight of their effort is revealed.”

Generous funding from the National Parks Foundation will give the JBRPC Education Team the opportunity to continue offering immersive shoreline cleanup or guided ecology exploration field trips at a variety of urban parks, such as Rockaway Beach, Canarsie Pier, and Marine Park.

This school year, JBRPC has already engaged 2,900 students in educational field trips at Jamaica Bay and Rockaway Parks. These students come from 17 NYC public schools, with 15 of them being Title 1 eligible. Our shoreline cleanup field trips have prevented more than 1,300 pounds of litter from entering Jamaica Bay and spreading to bodies of water across the globe, where it would stay forever.

All 4th grade students who engage in JBRPC field trips, or other OOK-sponsored field trips, are eligible to receive a free National Parks Pass that grants them access to all federal lands and waters across the country. Interested NYC public school teachers and educators within the Jamaica Bay Catchment (school districts 18, 19, 22, 23, 27, 28, and 29) should reach out to education@JBRPC.org to schedule a field trip.

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