All nonprofit groups are solely dependent upon the benevolence of benefactors to support their cause. And all donations, no matter what the size, are welcomed and appreciated because they all add up.
But every now and then, a generous gift comes along that can give an organization a major boost. And that’s what happened last month to the Sequoia Parks Foundation, a nonprofit fundraising partner of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
The Foundation recently received a grant of $100,000 from the Jeangerard Family Foundation, longtime supporters of the parks.
The grant will be used to educate youth about the parks via the Junior Ranger program and will increase accessibility to popular attractions for those with mobility issues.
Nature deficit disorder
It’s a trend that has outdoor enthusiasts concerned. Less and less children are spending time outside and in national parks, opting instead for electronic diversions for entertainment.
Studies have shown that exposure to nature is essential for a child’s healthy physical and emotional development. And a growing body of evidence links the lack of nature in children’s lives to the rise in obesity, attention disorders, and even depression.
Youth in the Central Valley are in close proximity to national parks where they should be able to easily get a regular dose of nature, but many come from low-income families, which adds another dimension to the dilemma.
The Junior Ranger program, which is available in every national park, has a goal of providing access to all children by teaching the natural sciences to kids as young as five years old. The Jeangerard Family Foundation’s grant will help this award-winning program as a portion of the recent donation will be used to update and reprint the Junior Ranger booklets.
The booklets are available at no cost at every park visitor center. In addition, the badges that reward the children who complete the tasks in the booklet, which makes them eligible for Junior Ranger status, will also be remade.
Perhaps more importantly, the funds will be used to ensure more youth have access to the parks and to develop more educational activities for them.
Accessibility for all
National parks aren’t just for those who can lace up their hiking boots, hoist a pack, and head out on a day-long excursion. There are those with varying stages of mobility who would also appreciate having access to the most beautiful of places that are far-removed from parking lots and sidewalks.
To that end, the Jeangerard grant will provide the means to complete a “universal access nature trail” in the Cedar Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park. This will build on a project already started — a two-mile trail accessible to all ages and abilities — that begins at the Zumwalt Meadow parking lot and which was previously funded by the generosity of the Jeangerard Family Foundation.
The current grant dollars also have the Sequoia Parks Foundation planning additional universal access trails in the Grant Grove area of Kings Canyon National Parks.
The Jeangerard Family Foundation was established in 1992. The Madera-based organization is dedicated to the conservation and preservation of natural resources.
For more information about the Sequoia Parks Foundation or to make a donation, go to www.sequoiaparksfoundation.org.