Sunflower Summer program provides summer enrichment for students

Flint Hills Discovery Center and Sunset Zoo in Manhattan, Kan., are two of the attractions...
Flint Hills Discovery Center and Sunset Zoo in Manhattan, Kan., are two of the attractions listed in the 2023 Sunflower Summer program.(WIBW)
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 5:41 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Sunflower Summer educational program will provide summer enrichment for students.

Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) announced Sunflower Summer is an educational program that promotes learning and family engagement during the summer allowing Kansas families free access to museums, zoos, historic landmarks, outdoor locations, and other attractions. Sunflower Summer will kick off on May 26 and end on Aug. 13.

Staff at KSDE said the program is funded by federal COVID-19 funds to offer summer enrichment activities to Kansas students.

Since its start in 2021, the program has provided summer enrichment learning opportunities for 164,318 Kansas students and 110,744 adults.

In 2021, there were 71 venues. That number increased to 90 for the 2022 program. For 2023, more than 100 venues will be taking part.

KSDE indicated the Sunflower Summer app can be downloaded for free from either Google Play for Android or Apple IOS app stores. People who kept the app on their device from last summer do not need to download another copy - they will receive an electronic notice to update their app to the 2023 version. Register an account by opening the app and following the prompts. Then select the attraction and tap “go.”

According to KSDE, using the Sunflower Summer app, each Kansas student and their guardians for up to two adults are provided one free visit to each participating attraction per year. The Sunflower Summer “Passport” in the app will be stamped, and the ticket will no longer be accessible.

The Flint Hills Discovery Center and Sunset Zoo are Sunflower Summer locations this year.

Sunset Zoo Director Scott Shoemaker shared a comment about the program.

“Sunset Zoo is excited, along with the Flint Hills Discovery Center, to offer a free visit to many who may not have been to either unique attraction here in Manhattan. Being a part of this program opens doors for visitors from all across Kansas to come see Manhattan and the surrounding communities. We are thankful to be a part of the program,” said Shoemaker.

Flint Hills Discovery Center Director Susan Adams echoed Shoemaker’s comment.

“We are thrilled to be part of Sunflower Summer for the third year in a row,” said Adams. “With Sunset Zoo joining the program and so many more great attractions across the Flint Hills region, this is the perfect opportunity for all families to get out and explore what Kansas has to offer.”

In addition to more than 100 attractions, this year’s Sunflower Summer program is offering the following bonus events:

  • Story Adventures
  • Sunflower Summer Mini Camp Nights
  • Tri-State Antique Engine and Threshers Association 70th Annual Show
  • Sunflower Summer Family Camp
  • Wichita Wind Surge Sunflower Sundays
  • Summer Camps and Enrichment

Funding for the Sunflower Summer program is limited, and tickets are on a first-come, first-served basis.

More information, including a full list of 2023 participating venues and a frequently asked questions section, is available on the program website.