Louisville Engaging Children Outdoors (ECHO) provides fourth grade students meaningful experiences in the natural world to cultivate a closer relationship with their outdoor environment. Since its inception in 2008, the ECHO initiative has grown to serve children at six area schools, several regional and national parks, and other Out of School Time (OST) locations.
The program provides each student six field experiences in a local park, the Jefferson Memorial Forest and an excursion to Daniel Boone National Forest at Red River Gorge. These experiences include scientific discovery, inquiry-based activities linked to school curriculum, and camping. ECHO's repeated, multi-faceted introductions to the natural world offer children a sequence of excursions rather than a one-time field trip, and are linked both to in-school education and out of school time.
Louisville ECHO is a Louisville Metro Parks' environmental education initiative, managed by staff based at the city's Jefferson Memorial Forest. The city learned from and replicated the success of the preceding U.S. Forest Service "More Kids in the Woods" program to launch Louisville ECHO.
Louisville cast a wide net for financial resources and committed city funds specifically to connecting children to nature. Louisville ECHO funding comes from a broad network of support, including the Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District, Louisville Metro Council Members, the Outdoor Foundation, Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Kentucky, and in-kind contributions from Metro Louisville Government, Jefferson County Public Schools, and other programmatic partners. Grants from the U.S. Forest Service through the "More Kids in the Woods" program helped launch and sustain Louisville ECHO.
The city has raised over $176,000 for Louisville ECHO since its inception, and annually provides six significant outdoor experiences to each fourth grade student at six area elementary schools.
Institute for Youth, Education and Families
Louisville Metro Parks Foundation / Jefferson Memorial Forest
11311 Mitchell Road
Last Modified: March 2016