Assemblyman Bob Oaks encourages New Yorkers to get out and enjoy the state’s parks and historic sites by promoting the New York State Office of Parks and Historic Preservation’s new outreach program, Connect Kids.

The program provides free entry to fourth grade students throughout the year, and in many cases, extends the benefit to persons in their car or family.

“With 180 state parks to explore and 35 historic sites to visit, this program allows more children and families to get out and see all the natural and historical wonder that New York state offers,” Oaks said. “I want everyone to be aware of this great initiative and hope families with fourth-graders will participate. Because this is a pilot program, a large number of New Yorkers participating will make it more likely that the state will continue this cost-saving measure in the future.”

Specifically, the state will accept the National Park Service’s Every Kid in a Park pass as a means to offset the entry cost for New Yorkers with fourth-graders wishing to visit state parks or historic sites. With the pass, the vehicle entry fee at state parks will be waived for vehicles in which a fourth-grader is riding as a passenger. At state historic sites, the fourth-grader will receive free house tours. Up to three adults accompanying the fourth-grader will also be eligible for free house tours at historic sites.

State parks and historic sites in the 130th Assembly District include Chimney Bluffs State Park in Huron and Fair Haven Beach State Park in Fair Haven. Fort Ontario State Historic Site in Oswego and Ganondagan State Historic Site in Victor, while not in the district, are nearby. Within the greater Finger Lakes region there are many more parks and sites to discover.

“Over the years, I have had the opportunity to speak to many fourth-graders about our state government,” Oaks said. “Fourth grade is the year that our students learn about New York state in school. What better way is there to learn about our state’s history and natural resources than to personally visit a park or a historic site?”

The NPS Every Kid in a Park pass can be obtained by fourth-graders for free and allows students and their families free admission to national parks and sites. To obtain a pass or learn more, visit everykidinapark.gov. The extension of the program to include New York state parks and sites only applies for this year, so Oaks encourages interested parents or students to get their pass and plan a visit soon.