Grant Aids Great Parks in Continuing Nature Education Programs through Pandemic

All, 2021, Great Parks News
Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr. Foundation

Great Parks’ nature education programming was significantly impacted during the pandemic, creating financial constraints and limiting staff and resources. Thanks to a grant from the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr. Foundation of $20,000, Great Parks has been able to bridge learning gaps and support school curriculum content with virtual programming through the 2020-2021 school year.

The grant has allowed Great Parks to provide children attending learning centers at Cincinnati Recreation Commission (CRC) and YMCA sites with various virtual enrichment and education opportunities. Great Parks has been able to present supplemental nature-based programming, allowing teachers to educate their students in the areas of science and cultural history to help better understand the natural world around them.

“It gets my kids to places that are so close, yet so far,” says Catherine Rosevear, fourth grade teacher at Lincoln Heights Elementary School. “The fact that we even get to do virtual is sometimes better because it takes us different places. We are getting more from our parks.”

Elementary school children participate in a nature education program at the Clifton Community Center.
Cincinnati Recreation Commission Clifton Community Center

The grant has also allowed Great Parks to team up with other regional education and youth services organizations, several of whom participated in the same summer collaborative, to provide supplemental nature-based education. The collaboration includes Cincinnati Public Library, YMCA of Greater Cincinnati, Great Parks of Hamilton County, Cincinnati Recreation Commission, Cincinnati Observatory, and Cincinnati Museum Center. “Partnerships are the core for much of the work Great Parks is accomplishing in the Cincinnati region including community conservation and educating the next generation. We are proud to be a leader in convening schools, community organizations, and funders to support students in and out of the classroom,” says Todd Palmeter, CEO of Great Parks of Hamilton County.

Donna Ruttschaw, a fourth grade teacher at Glendale Elementary, says, “A price break or even free programs means a lot. Having funding means the world because it gives us interactive, fun and highly engaging programming,” Bringing virtual programming to our underserved population makes all the difference. It encourages my students, especially girls and minority students, to stay curious and take STEM related classes in the future and helps make the educational playing field more equal. Instead of us seeing one thing with in-person presentations, we get to see different people in different locations, engaging us with interactive activities all at the same time.”

The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr. Foundation is an independent family foundation dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for residents in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. We concentrate our efforts and resources in areas about which Carol and Ralph were most passionate: Arts and Culture, Community Development, Education, and Human Services. All of our work is intended to have the greatest impact possible as we, in collaboration with our region’s stakeholders, help lead the way to a strong and vibrant community. More information at

Great Parks of Hamilton County’s mission is to preserve and protect natural resources and to provide outdoor recreation and education in order to enhance the quality of life for present and future generations. For additional information, visit or call 513-521-7275. Great Parks Forever, the philanthropic partner of Great Parks of Hamilton County, translates an early conservation promise into everyday experiences and lasting legacies. For additional information, please visit