South Dakota Fish, Game & Parks Works To Get Kids Outside

South Dakota Fish, Game & Parks and DOH Work To Get Kids Outside

South Dakota Fish, Game & Parks
South Dakota Fish, Game & Parks

PIERRE, S.D. –-( The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks and the Department of Health teamed up in an effort to increase the amount of time pre-school age children spend outdoors.

The two departments recently awarded nature backpacks, filled with items to encourage outdoor activities, to childcare providers and pre-schools across the state. Based on class sizes provided by applicants, the backpacks will reach over 7,500 children.

“The nature backpack program is a perfect opportunity for the GFP and the Department of Health to partner with caregivers in getting kids outside,” 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.

This is the second installment of the grant program. In 2010, the Game, Fish and Parks reached 4,780 children by awarding backpacks to 180 childcare providers across the state. Follow-up surveys showed that childcare providers were going outside more often and spending longer periods of time outside each time.

Vonk said that the grant provided for 300 backpacks, and a few currently remain unassigned. These will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis to qualified applicants. Applications are available at

The Game, Fish and Parks and Department of Health plan to pair up again to offer the grant program next year, focusing on after-school and out-of-school programs. Applications for that installment will be available this fall.

More information on other opportunities provided by GFP can be found at GFP’s Children in Nature webpage.