Giving Kids a Ticket to Ride

“It was amazing to be on the Mississippi River in a boat and see real animals close by. 
I want to come back!”
“It was awesome! It was the first time I saw a real waterfall!”
“I learned that taking care of nature is like taking care of us.”
- Big River Journey Students 2013
As one of the country’s few national parks in an urban area, the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area has a rare opportunity: it is poised to provide outdoor experiences for thousands of city kids who might otherwise never get to visit a “traditional” national park.
Our park’s unique river programs give urban youth a chance to create a personal connection with the outdoors and the Mississippi River through educational experiences on the river itself, right in the city, often just steps from home.
But, for the majority of young people in our community, access to these programs requires overcoming significant barriers. The outdoors may seem too far away, too unfamiliar, or too expensive to access. Most of these kids have never been on the river—or even in a boat. The reasons for non-participation are complex, but we realized there is one thing we can provide to at least get them there: a Ticket to Ride.
By providing funds for kids’ program registration, boat tickets, or simply bus fare to get to the river, the Mississippi River Fund’s Ticket to Ride scholarship fund is enabling thousands of young people to take part in park programs that help them begin a lifelong relationship with the river and the outdoors. Programs like Big River Journey, Urban Wilderness Canoe Adventures, and Take Me to the River teach kids about the incredible history, value, and importance of the Mississippi River; they teach outdoor skills like paddling, bird watching, plant and animal identification, fishing, and the critical role they play in caring for nature.
We have a national park in our back yard. As the charitable partner of the National Park Service, it is part of our mission to strengthen the connection between people and the Mississippi River. Let’s begin that connection with the young people in our community today—the same people who will care for our national park tomorrow.
Our goal is to provide 3,000 kids with the means to take part in national park programs on the river in 2014. Will you join us?
To learn more about the Ticket to Ride scholarship fund, visit