South Dakota GFP, DOH to Grant Nature Backpacks Kits to After-School/Out-Of School Programs

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The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks and the Department of Health are teaming up in an effort to increase the amount of time children spend outdoors.

Applications are currently available for the Children in Nature Backpack Grant, which awards a nature backpack to after-school and out-of-school programs in South Dakota.

The backpacks will be in the form of large kits and contain a variety of items to encourage daily outdoor activity, such as insect nets, habitat games, tracks, flying discs, activity idea books, fishing poles and more.

Each backpack kit is valued at approximately $250 and contains numerous items that can be used in a group setting.

"The nature backpack program is a perfect opportunity for the GFP and the Department of Health to partner with caregivers in getting kids outside more," said GFP Secretary Jeff Vonk. "Keeping kids physically active and connecting them with nature is very important, both for the children as individuals and for our society as a whole."

Studies show children who play outside are healthier, have higher self-esteem, are good problem-solvers, have good self-discipline and do better in school.

"At the same time," said Vonk, "we're engaging tomorrow's conservation leaders and introducing them to our state's traditions of hunting and fishing. Our unique outdoor treasures depend on the next generation to preserve them."

The number of grants awarded will depend on the number of qualified applicants. Applicants must be an established after-school or out-of-school program in South Dakota.

Grants will be awarded to those who demonstrate a need and the commitment to use the items frequently.

This is the third installment of the grant program.

In 2010 and 2011, the Game, Fish and Parks awarded backpacks to 468 daycare and preschool providers across the state. Follow-up surveys showed that child care providers were going outside more often and spending longer periods of time outside each time.

The backpack grant program is offered as part of the Game, Fish and Parks' participation in the nationwide Children in Nature initiative. The initiative seeks to make nature and the outdoors a daily part of children's lives.

The Department of Health is participating in the backpack program as part of its Healthy South Dakota Initiative to encourage increased physical activity.

More information and an application can be found online or by calling 605-773-7048. Applications are due Dec. 15, 2011. Backpacks will be awarded in March and April.


Retired2hunt's picture

  What a terrific program


What a terrific program South Dakota!  Those states not currently doing something similar could definitely eliminate a learning curve here and review what SD is doing.  That is great that two agencies would team up and develop such a highly successful program that benefits the youth of the state.

And $250 worth of outdoor activities plus the pack - outstanding!  A great means to get the outdoor activity supplies into the hands of those children that just may not have the parent or parents that are also involved in the outdoors.  This could easily assist in getting the adult interested as well while working with their children's interest based on the time spent with this grant.  468 daycares involved is a lot of opportunity to make change and also create future hunters and fishermen/woment.  My hats off to these two SD agencies.