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BREAKING NEWS: Bipartisan NCLI Act of 2013 Introduced!

Bipartisan Bill Seeks to Strengthen Environmental Education

Reed, Kirk, Sarbanes, Fitzpatrick Reintroduce The No Child Left Inside Act

WASHINGTON, DC - In an effort to reconnect more kids with nature and address critical environmental challenges, U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) and U.S. Representatives John Sarbanes (D-MD) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) are introducing legislation to strengthen and expand environmental education in America's classrooms. The No Child Left Inside Act of 2013 will help expand environmental education in schools across the country by bringing locally developed, high-quality environmental education programs to more schools and providing federal assistance to states to develop and implement environmental literacy plans.

Studies show getting kids outside and teaching them about nature helps them raise achievement in other subjects and has important health benefits too. Yet studies also show the amount of time children now spend outdoors has declined significantly in the past 20 years. Today, many schools are being forced to scale back environmental programs and curtail outdoor activities.

"Teaching children about the environment and giving them a hands-on opportunity to experience nature makes them smarter and healthier. Environmental education should be an important part of the curriculum in our schools. This legislation will help reconnect more kids with nature and raise student achievement in core subjects like math, science, and reading," said Senator Reed. "Environmental awareness should be second nature for our young people and protecting the environment is crucial to future economic growth."

"To prepare American students to compete in the 21st century global economy, this bill uses an innovative approach to teaching science and bringing the benefits of outdoor activity to more children," Senator Kirk said. "Our bill promotes hands-on learning and an integrated curriculum, while bolstering important science, technology, engineering and math education programs."

"Environmental education must be a national priority," said Congressman Sarbanes. "Hands-on, outdoor interaction with the environment enhances student achievement – not only in science, but also in reading, math, and social studies. By investing in education that will grow the next generation of innovators, scientists and environmental stewards, we will prepare our workforce of the future to meet the many economic, environmental, and energy-related challenges our country is facing."

"This bill reflects a larger, overall responsibility to promote environmental stewardship across generations," said Congressman Fitzpatrick. "Incorporating environmental learning is a down payment on our future. Research shows that promoting a hands-on approach to teaching kids about the environment improves student achievement in science as well as reading, math and social studies – all which directly strengthens our global competitiveness."

The No Child Left Inside Act would provide funds to encourage partnerships between school districts, colleges, parks, and non-profits and other community-based organizations to implement the improved curricula and provide professional development for teachers on the use of field-based, service, and experiential learning.

Additionally, the bill will add environmental education as an authorized activity under other traditional federal grant programs and require cooperation, joint planning, and reporting by federal agencies involved in environmental education.

NCLI is supported by over 50 million citizens from 2,200 local, regional, and national organizations in the No Child Left Inside Coalition, including the League of Conservation Voters, National Education Association, National Science Teachers Association, National Wildlife Federation, and the Outdoor Industry Association, as well as hundreds of colleges, universities, businesses, and health care organizations.

The bill numbers for the No Child Left Inside Act are S. 1306 in the U.S. Senate and H.R. 2702 in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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NCCAN! is currently advocating for the following initiatives, policies and legislation to get kids outdoors.

State Legislative Action

NC Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights: This proclamation has been endorsed by the NCCAN! Coalition and has many supporters across the state. It affirms our common belief that every child in NC has a right to outdoor experiences in nature and why this is important to a child’s physical, mental, health and education achievement. Read more here.

NC Environmental Literacy Plan: This plan will make NC ready to implement NCLI and become eligible for additional federal funding for education. NCLI focuses specifically on enhancing environmental literacy through “formal” public K-12 education.  Consistent with the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law, this initiative’s focus is on student achievement through the adoption of environmental literacy plans and teacher training programs.    To address our nation’s growing needs for environmental education, we need both informal and formal programs and federal funding to support both.   Read more about the Environmental Literacy Plan.

Federal Action:

NCCAN! is part of a national strategic partnership, Outdoor Alliance for Kids (OAK) of organizations from diverse sectors with the common interest in expanding the number and quality of opportunities for children, youth and families to connect with the outdoors. There are 4 key issues we are advocating:

In April 2010, President Obama launched the America’s Great Outdoors initiative to develop a 21st Century Conservation Agenda. OAK supports the Administration’s America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) initiative to engage the public in shaping a new conservation and recreation agenda that meets the needs of the 21st Century.
Today’s children are spending less time outdoors in nature than any generation in history. Emerging research suggests that time spent outdoors in nature results in health benefits for children and youth and that significant exposure to the natural world during childhood results in positive attitudes towards the environment in adulthood.
For a 21st Century Conservation Agenda to be effective, it must effectively address the growing divide between children and nature.
OAK is advancing the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative by:

The proposed Healthy Kids Outdoors Act will improve our children’s health, support economic growth and strengthen the future of conservation in America by reconnecting our children, youth and families with the natural world through innovative state strategies that connect communities with green spaces, provide opportunities for outdoor recreation, and engage the health community in educating parents and caregivers about the benefits of active time outdoors.

On June 1, 2010, First Lady Michelle Obama launched Let’s Move Outside, an arm of her campaign to end childhood obesity in one generation. OAK supports the First Lady’s efforts to improve the health and well-being of our children through proper nutrition and physical activity.
OAK is advancing the Let’s Move Outside campaign by:

OAK supports provisions in the transportation authorization bills that help connect kids with the outdoors by maintaining robust and dependable funding for active transportation options that connect communities to parks and public lands, enhance access and safety, and promote healthy modes of transportation such as biking and walking.