Collin O’Mara in response to President Obama’s announcement of a new goal to have every 4th grader in America visit a public land park, forest or refuge.
"We can see a future in which public lands and wildlife are a part of every child’s life experience."
The National Wildlife Federation and its 49 state affiliated organizations enthusiastically support the goal put forth by President Obama today to have every 4th grader in America visit a public land park, forest or wildlife refuge in the coming year. Our public lands are an important part of the American story and children receive immense benefit from learning about and directly experiencing nature, wildlife, the outdoors and public land areas.
The need for such a goal has never been higher as America’s children now spend so much of their time staying indoors staring at the screens of electronic devices, watching television and playing electronic games. Research shows that the average child today spends a daily eight hours connected to such devices and spends a small fraction of their time engaged in outdoor play and nature study. This results in a lost affinity for nature, our public lands and this unique aspect of American heritage.
"This is a bold challenge by the President to America’s parents, educators and child care providers to give America’s 4th graders, year after year, an opportunity to experience our national parks, forests and refuges," says Collin O’Mara, NWF’s President and CEO, "we can see a future in which public lands and wildlife are a part of every child’s life experience."
The National Wildlife Federation provides programming to one third of all of America’s 4th graders through its Ranger Rick publications, its Eco Schools USA and Schoolyard Wildlife Habitats, parent education programs and partnerships with park and wildlife agencies—all of which will directly support the President’s new goal.
The National Wildlife Federation working with its partner organizations, the Outdoor Alliance for Kids, the National Recreation and Park Association, the American Recreation Coalition, the Federal Interagency Council for Outdoor Recreation (FICOR), and our 49 state and territorial affiliates has developed nature and outdoor programs that offer 5 million children opportunities for weekly and daily nature play. Having this new presidential goal of planning for every fourth grader in America to visit a public land park, forest or refuge will support and expand on our success in reconnecting kids and families with nature and will help children at an impressionable age to actually experience some of our most beautiful and compelling natural and scenic places.