Kids in Parks and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation honored

March 9, 2015

The Association of Partners for Public Lands celebrates excellence in public lands partnerships

(Winston-Salem) – Kids in Parks (KIP), a signature program of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, received the Association of Partners for Public Lands (APPL) 2015 Partnership Award for Outstanding Public Engagement at a ceremony held Thursday, February 19, in Atlanta during the APPL Convention and Trade Show. Additionally, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation (BCBSNC Foundation) was recognized with the Corporate Stewardship award for its key role in supporting the KIP program.

“Dynamic, effective partnerships are absolutely essential to the preservation of America’s most treasured public lands and the enhancement of their visitors’ experiences,” stated APPL Executive Director Dan Puskar. “This year’s awardees represent the incredible innovation and impact that is happening throughout our public lands when nonprofit organizations and land management agencies collaborate toward shared goals.”  

The Outstanding Public Engagement Award recognizes exemplary products, displays, programs or services created in partnership by a nonprofit organization and a public land that advance meaningful and sustainable connections between individuals and America’s public lands.

“We are excited to have won the Outstanding Public Engagement award from APPL,” said Jason Urroz, director of Kids in Parks. “APPL is the largest of the public land partners in the country, and to be recognized by the group for our important work in engaging kids and families with our parks and public lands is an honor.”

KIP was recently awarded $921,000 from the BCBSNC Foundation to continue its work helping kids and families connect with nature and fight childhood obesity through TRACK Trail excursions. Activities outlined in brochures provided at each trail encourage children to learn about their natural surroundings and build connections to parks and public land. Over the next three years, the grant will be used to further expand the network of trail adventures throughout North Carolina, with a goal of designating at least one trail in every county. Kids in Parks will also develop an app for mobile devices to guide trekkers on paths, which feature hiking, canoeing, and disc golf adventures. In April, bike routes in Boone and Winston-Salem will be added to the network of trails.

The BCBSNC Foundation has been a key supporter of the KIP program starting with the opening of the first one-mile loop trail at the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center near Asheville (milepost 384) a little more than five years ago. Today, there are 58 trails in 35 North Carolina counties, with 20 more slated for completion in 2015.


About Kids in Parks

Kids in Parks is a program of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation and was formed through partnerships between the Foundation, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation. Working together with partners throughout the country, its mission is to promote children’s health and the health of our parks by engaging families in outdoor adventures that increase physical activity and foster a meaningful connection to the natural and cultural world. The Kids in Parks TRACK Trails program provides kids and families with a network of self-guided hiking trails. Every TRACK Trail has a series of brochures designed to turn an ordinary walk in the woods into a fun-filled adventure. Kids can register every adventure through the Kids in Parks website,, and earn Trail TRACKer Gear designed to make their next outdoor adventure more interactive and fun.


About the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation (BCBSNC Foundation) is an independent philanthropic affiliate of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of North Carolinians. The Foundation's priorities include: Health Care - improving health outcomes of populations served by safety net organizations; Healthy Living - increasing physical activity and access to healthy local foods; and Nonprofit Leadership - increasing the effectiveness of nonprofit organizations and their leaders. BCBSNC Foundation invests in programs and services in response to grant requests and proactively creates initiatives or partners with organizations to address specific needs. It also coordinates several Signature Programs, among them, Be Active Kids® and the Nonprofit Leadership Academy. More information is available at Since its founding in 2000, the BCBSNC Foundation has invested more than $100 million into North Carolina communities through more than 750 grants.

The APPL Partnership Awards celebrate the best in public lands partnerships, recognizing individuals, organizations, publications, products, programs and services that embody leading edge achievements in the preservation of public lands and the enrichment of visitors. 

About APPL

For more than 35 years, APPL has served as the national voice for nonprofit public lands partners and has strengthened its membership through education, information sharing and representation. Its membership is comprised of nonprofit organizations whose missions embrace a vibrant future for the nation’s natural and cultural heritage. Whether through educational programs, interpretive products, conservation initiatives, advocacy, youth engagement or philanthropy, APPL’s member organizations contribute over $150 million in critical grants, programs and services. For more information, visit