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Nature Awaits: Getting all 4th graders outside

Nature Awaits graphic

Nature Awaits: Getting all 4th graders outside

Kids sitting on a bench writing and pointing at things
Kids sitting on a bench writing and pointing at things

Calling all 4th grade classrooms!

We are excited to announce a new opportunity for fourth grade teachers and students. Nature Awaits is a joint effort with the Governor’s office to bring children outdoors to experience Michigan’s state parks.

All fourth grade classrooms will be eligible for a FREE field trip to select state parks!

Get all the details below.


Fourth grade classrooms from Michigan’s schools that answer yes to these questions:

  • My students are 4th graders (4th/5th and 3rd/4th split classrooms also welcome).
  • My class has more than 15 students.
  • My class is from a public school (bussing fees reimbursed automatically through a grant) OR my class is from a private school (bussing grants may be available through a separate program called Wheels to Woods).



All fourth grade classrooms will have the opportunity to visit a state park FREE OF CHARGE.

In addition to free park entry, transportation grants will be available to cover the costs of bussing to state parks for public schools. A separate grant application may cover bussing for private schools through the Wheels to Woods program.

At the park, students will participate in an educational program that will include hands-on activities and a nature hike on park trails.

During their visit, students will learn about:

  • The plants and animals of the park.
  • How humans impact natural landscapes.
  • How Michigan’s state parks belong to everyone in the state.
  • And much more!

This educational field trip is aligned with state education standards and will include science, social studies, physical education and language arts components.

After attending the program, students will leave with a junior ranger badge and guidebook which will include a free pass to bring their families back to a state park for another visit.


Initial plans and logistics have begun, but funding for the program does not begin until Oct. 1, 2023.

We anticipate needing several months to design and pilot a program, purchase materials, set up a transportation system, set up a scheduling platform, and hire and train professional staff. We are tentatively planning to pilot the program this fall and winter in several areas while we prepare for the official start program kickoff in spring 2024.

Registration will begin in early 2024.

If you have any questions in the meantime, contact us at



A large body of research substantiates the physical, mental and emotional health benefits of spending time outdoors. In short, research suggests that kids who spend time outdoors are happier, healthier and smarter!

We’re so excited to welcome you and your classroom to Michigan’s state parks!