The Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes and the National Lakeshore seek annual grants to provide educational snowshoe programs each winter.
The National Lakeshore offers snowshoe field trips for fourth-grade classes in the months of January, February, and March. Students learn about winter ecology and snow science in a hands-on, experiential format while hiking on snowshoes through the National Lakeshore.
The Friends then administer these grants, allocating the funds to individual schools based on their interests and needs. The program includes bus transportation for schools to come to the Lakeshore. The Friends also raise funds to provide additional snowshoes, hats, mittens, and art supplies for this program.
The pre and post-visit activities developed for teachers to use with students help build background knowledge and create excitement for the hike. The lesson during the hike allows students to explore concepts in winter ecology and snow science.
The post-visit activities are designed to extend learning and to give students the opportunity to be creative and to connect learning to the real world. Lessons are designed to work together, yet can be used in a mix and match way based on student interest and needs.
The snowshoe program targets fourth-grade classes based on curriculum, but other classes are also allowed to participate when there is availability on the yearly schedule. Between 1,400 and 1,500 students have attended the snowshoe program in recent years.
in 2018 and 2019, the National Park Foundation (NPS) provided grants that supported bus transportation. “These grants are planting the seeds for lifelong relationships with national parks and their programs,” said Will Shafroth, NPF President. These children are forever impacted. We appreciate the power of national parks and, through our support, the National Park Foundation hopes to share them with as many kids as possible.”