Meg Matthews

“Kids to Parks Day” is a nation-wide call for parents and grandparents to engage their children in outdoor living. This is an opportunity to be nature mentors to children or grandchildren so they can experience first-hand how inspiring the natural world can be, as well as connecting them to the heart-healthy activities in Arkansas state parks.

The natural world is a world of wonder, and the Arkansas state park system administers over 54,000 acres that include 143 trails totaling 400 miles to explore and enjoy. The 52 state parks are a living legacy that teach and inspire generation after generation. Studies show that children who have experiences in nature are better students and make better citizens. Today’s youth will soon be the adults who will protect and manage these natural and historic treasures.

The National Park Trust (NPT) started Kids to Parks day in 2011 as a way to urge children across the country to discover science, history, nature and adventure in a neighborhood park right around the corner or just across town. Kids to Parks Day 2017 promises to be bigger than ever! Last year, Kids to Parks Day had more than 730,000 participants in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. This year, the goal is to have 900,000 people enjoy Kids to Parks Day all across the country.

In addition to the many recreational opportunities and self-guided activities that can be enjoyed by visitors in Arkansas’s state parks daily, state park interpreters around Arkansas will offer a wide range of special activities and programs on May 20. Here are just a few:

• This day is dedicated to our young explorers! Children of all ages are invited to take part in the pioneer and Civil War experience at Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park as we gear this day’s activities towards our youngest adventurers. Activities throughout the day will highlight the natural and historical resources that we can explore together.

• Come join us for National Kids to Parks Day at Lake Fort Smith State Park! Fun interactive programs and activities are scheduled throughout this day and are dedicated to kids, our future park ambassadors. Guided hikes, nature scavenger hunts, trivia challenges, and many more activities are in store.

• The forests of Lake Dardanelle State Park are filled with pine trees. These trees played an important role in the development of the state of Arkansas and also support wildlife. They can also be used to create your own artwork. Join a park interpreter at the amphitheater to learn to make a paintbrush from the needles and then create your own masterpiece.

The NPT launched, where park events are listed by state and city. The website features helpful downloadable tips and activity guides to help children, families, and teachers plan park adventures. Families can pledge to participate at the website.

About Arkansas State Parks
Arkansas state parks and museums cover 54,353 acres of forest, wetlands, fish and wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation facilities and unique historic and cultural resources. The system includes 1,100 buildings (including 183 historic structures), six National Historic Landmarks, a National Natural Landmark and 16 sites on the National Register of Historic Places.
The state parks have 1,771 camp sites, 1,050 picnic sites, 208 cabins, four lodges, eight restaurants, 10 marinas and 415 miles of trails. Eight million visitors annually come from all regions of the country. Park staffs provide over 42,000 education programs, activities and special events to more than 700,000 participants each year.
Established in 1927, Arkansas State Parks preserve special places for future generations, provide quality recreation and education opportunities, enhance the state’s economy through tourism, and provide leadership in resource conservation.

About National Park Trust
National Park Trust, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, is dedicated to preserving parks today and creating park stewards for tomorrow. Since 1983, NPT has completed more than 100 land projects benefiting 40 national parks and other public lands in 33 states and Washington, D.C. Since 2009 our Buddy Bison School Program and national Kids to Parks Day have engaged 2,000,000 students across the country with our nation’s parks, public lands and waters (