No Child Left Inside Act Wins In Congress

New state grant program would help children connect to nature

09-18-2008 // Patrick Fitzgerald

WASHINGTON, DC -- Children and teachers won a big victory last night with the passage of the No Child Left Inside Act of 2008 in the House of Representatives. The popular, bi-partisan bill passed by a vote of 293-109. The bill was written to better prepare teachers for using hands-on environmental education to engage students in learning in the great outdoors. Research shows that exposure to nature improves student achievement in the classroom.

"Passage of the No Child Left Inside Act is a huge victory for everyone who cares about connecting kids to nature," said Larry Schweiger, President of the National Wildlife Federation, which publishes Ranger Rick magazine and has championed passage of the bill. "The bipartisan support this bill garnered underscores what we all know—hands-on environmental education is good for kids. It's good for their academic performance, their health, and for the future of our planet."

Passage of the bill is especially timely given that today's kids spend half as much time outside as children did 20 years ago and average 44.5 hours a week in front of some type of electronic entertainment. Not surprisingly, recent studies confirm that children are increasingly disconnected from nature. Furthermore, the research shows that kids who have a significant outdoor experience before age 11 are more likely to have a life-long conservation ethic.

Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., introduced the No Child Left Inside Act (H.R. 3036) in July 2007, and has now attracted 64 cosponsors to the bill. The measure creates a new grant program for states to provide more hands-on environmental education programs for children. Funds provided by the bill also would support the creation of state environmental literacy plans and teacher training in environmental education.

The No Child Left Inside Act will fund nonprofit organizations, state educational agencies, local educational agencies or institutions of higher education that demonstrate expertise in helping the field of environmental education become more effective and widely practiced. The bill also will extend the full National Environmental Education Act authorization, including Environmental Education and Training, at $14 million through fiscal year 2009.

"No Child Left Inside never would have passed without the leadership of Congressman Sarbanes and the support of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Campaign for Environmental Literacy, and the more than 700 other organizations in the No Child Left Inside Coalition," added Kevin Coyle, Vice President for Education and Training at the National Wildlife Federation.

The No Child Left Inside coalition's more than 700 members include educational institutions, business groups, and environmental, sportsmen, and healthcare organizations.

"Widespread and diverse support for environmental education is not surprising," said Patrick Fitzgerald, Senior Legislative Representative for NWF's Education Campaigns. "In addition to the many academic and health benefits of environmental education, business leaders increasingly believe that an environmentally literate workforce is critical to their long-term success."

In August 2007, Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., introduced the Senate version of the No Child Left Inside Act of 2008, S.1981. The bill has not yet been reported out of committee, but it also enjoys strong bipartisan support and has attracted 14 cosponsors.

"The resounding success of this bill in the House lays the foundation for wins in both chambers during the next Congress," said Fitzgerald.

For more information about No Child Left Inside, please visit www.nclicoalition.org.

For more information on how to connect kids to nature, visit NWF's Be Out There.

National Wildlife Federation is America's conservation organization inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future.

Contact:
Patrick Fitzgerald, NWF Senior Legislative Representative, (202) 870-0824, fitzgeraldp@nwf.org

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