New Partnership Expands Outdoor Education at North Dakota State Parks

BISMARCK – The North Dakota Department of Parks and Recreation (NDPRD) and the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (NDDPI) are thrilled to announce a partnership designed to expand, enhance and support learning opportunities in outdoors for all public, private, and home-schooled students in North Dakota. September 2024.

This partnership provides funding and support for 24 outdoor pedagogical days for sixth-grade students (10-12 years old); personalized excursion experiences for students for all grade levels; financial assistance for program fees and transportation to state parks; and an expansion of the NDPRD’s online educational video presence, The Campfire Series. Funding comes from the American Rescue Plan Act and the programs are designed to improve learning recovery due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are proud and enthusiastic supporters of outdoor education. Expanding learning opportunities outside of the traditional classroom can have a lifelong impact on children,” said Cody Schulz, director of North Dakota Parks and Recreation. “We are grateful for the partnership and resources that will enhance our educational program and provide more North Dakota students and families the opportunity to visit our state parks.”

Ten Educational Field Days for sixth graders will be held in 2022 across the state of North Dakota. Field days are designed for students to cover five different outdoor-focused topics throughout the day at a state park. Field trips are also offered on a wide variety of topics for K-12 students, and educators are encouraged to contact state parks to start planning. There is a short application for funding for field trips and travel reimbursement on the website below.

“Field trips provide wonderful educational opportunities outside of the classroom, for students to learn biology, history, geography and a host of other subjects,” said Kirsten Baesler, superintendent of the public instruction. “Our students will also learn about our wonderful state park system, which is a resource for them, their families, and all North Dakotans.”

WATFORD CITY, ND - July 29: A buffalo is seen in Theodore Roosevelt State Park outside of Watford City, North Dakota.  North Dakota has seen an oil boom in recent years, thanks in part to new drilling techniques, including hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.  In April 2013, the United States Geological Survey released a new study estimating that the Bakken formation and surrounding oilfields could produce up to 7.4 billion barrels of oil, doubling their 2008 estimate of 3. 65 billion barrels of oil.  (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

North Dakota’s 13 state parks offer an abundance of natural, cultural, historical and recreational opportunities. “Combined with the beauty of North Dakota State Parks, I cannot think of a better environment to enhance student learning, as outdoor activities are known to improve physical, mental and emotional,” said Josh Steffan, head of education and programs for the NDPRD. “Our team looks forward to expanding our educational and interpretive capabilities and encouraging all school administrators and teachers to consider these educational opportunities for their students at a North Dakota State Park.”