Imagine what it would be like if every K-12 school across the country made environmental education (EE) an essential part of the curriculum, with the goal of achieving environmental literacy for all students.  Now, imagine how this could happen if the U.S. Department of Education encouraged each state to develop a plan that included environmental literacy state standards along with training and support for teachers and schools. The good news is that a dedicated team of professionals and several members of our U.S. Congress are working to make these dreams come true and they are making progress.

 

In 2007, the No Child Left Inside (NCLI) Coalition began working to support legislation that would provide funding for K-12 environmental education (EE) at schools. With over 2000 member groups, including educational, environmental, business, recreational, faith-based and health-based (and C&NN!), the coalition now represents at least 50 million Americans. Representative John Sarbanes of Maryland and Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island have, several times, introduced legislation to Congress under the title: No Child Left Inside Act. Presently, the primary goal is to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act so that environmental education becomes an integrated part of the learning process for students across the country. As defined in the language of the Act, environmental education includes a focus on sustained outdoor experiences and investigations.

 

In 2012, in recognition of the growing support for environmental education, the White House hosted the first-ever White House Summit of Environmental Education. At the Summit, then Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson announced creation of an Environmental Education Task Force, to be co-chaired by EPA, U.S. Department of Education, and the Department of Interior. In his Summit address, Congressman Sarbanes noted: “I am very pleased to be a part of today's White House Summit on Environmental Education, and I commend the President for convening it. Environmental education must be a national priority. Research shows that hands-on, outdoor environmental education has a measurably positive impact not only on student achievement in science, but also in reading, math and social studies. If we are going to successfully meet the many economic, environmental, and energy related challenges we now face, we must invest in environmental education to grow the next generation of innovators, scientists and environmental stewards."

 

One provision of the NCLI Act is that state Departments of Education (DOE), in order to be eligible to receive EE funding, would need to develop and adopt an environmental literacy plan. Even though the Act has yet to be approved, it appears that the White House and Secretary of Education’s endorsement of EE and the possibility of future funding opportunities have encouraged a movement. Forty-six states, with support from each state DOE, have begun working on or have already completed environmental literacy plans. As a result, getting students outdoors as an essential part of school curricula may finally become a reality ….good news for kids and great news for teachers who need more support in their “take ‘em outside” efforts.

 

Links and Inspiration:

Visit the No Child Left Inside (NCLI) Coalition Web site

See how one organization is putting NCLI principles into action:

Visit the REAL School Gardens Web site

 

 

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Tamra,  I love the Trail Rules sign!  Is it your photo?  Could I possibly use it in some of my talks about nature play?

    Ken Finch, Green Hearts INC

Great post, love the picture. :)

Yes, my photo and you are welcome to use it in your talks. It was taken at Boxerwood Gardens in Lexington, VA. 
 They have a wonderful play trail for young children. Tamra


Ken Finch said:

Hi Tamra,  I love the Trail Rules sign!  Is it your photo?  Could I possibly use it in some of my talks about nature play?

    Ken Finch, Green Hearts INC

Thanks Tamra!



Tamra Willis said:

Yes, my photo and you are welcome to use it in your talks. It was taken at Boxerwood Gardens in Lexington, VA. 
 They have a wonderful play trail for young children. Tamra


Ken Finch said:

Hi Tamra,  I love the Trail Rules sign!  Is it your photo?  Could I possibly use it in some of my talks about nature play?

    Ken Finch, Green Hearts INC

Any idea where this sits now?

In the spirit of transparency, I'd like to hop on this bandwagon of using the photo with credit to you! Perhaps one day we can get something like this ourselves....once the poison ivy is controlled better because right now "touch anything" might put us in a bind, ha! 

Tamra Willis said:

Yes, my photo and you are welcome to use it in your talks. It was taken at Boxerwood Gardens in Lexington, VA. 
 They have a wonderful play trail for young children. Tamra


Ken Finch said:

Hi Tamra,  I love the Trail Rules sign!  Is it your photo?  Could I possibly use it in some of my talks about nature play?

    Ken Finch, Green Hearts INC

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