Collins, Reed, Merkley Lead Bipartisan E…

Washington, D.C – In an effort to reconnect more kids with nature, improve their mental and physical health, and address critical environmental challenges, US Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced legislation to strengthen and expand environmental education in America’s classrooms.

“Maine’s abundant natural resources and pristine environment make it an idyllic place for children to grow up,” said Senator Collins. “From our verdant western mountains to our rugged coastline and all of the lakes, ponds, forests, and rivers in between, there are endless opportunities for young people to explore and enjoy the outdoors. Our bipartisan legislation would provide grants to states to integrate environmental education into their core curriculum and also establish an outdoor education pilot program so that students can learn more about the native flora, fauna, and ecosystems in their own backyard and be inspired with a lifelong love of nature.”

“We are incredibly grateful for Senator Collins’ co-sponsorship of the No Child Left Inside legislation. Maine is a national leader in outdoor learning. With the additional funding from this bill, schools could ensure that youth have powerful outdoor and environmental learning experiences. NCLI’s focus on educator support, community partnership, and outdoor school experiences will rapidly accelerate states’ ability to meet the needs of our youth, preparing them to enter the workforce with essential skills while supporting their physical and mental well being,” said Olivia Griset, Executive Director of The Maine Environmental Education Association.

I am in full support of the No Child Left Inside legislation. The outdoors supports wellness in all humans. This bill will enhance teacher professional learning focused on facilitating outdoor learning experiences. Teachers are the conduit through which children can learn in an environment that will support their physical, social-emotional, and cognitive development. We can no longer continue the laser focus on cognitive growth in the public school system and ignore the needs of the whole child, said Marie Robinson, Ph.D. Superintendent of Schools; Elementary Principal Katahdin Schools, RSU 89.

the No Child Left Inside Act will help bring locally developed, high-quality environmental education programs to more schools nationwide by authorizing up to $150 million annually in federal assistance to states to develop and implement environmental literacy plans. The bill will also promote professional development for teachers on how to integrate environmental literacy and field experiences into their instruction and establish competitive grants to help schools partner with colleges and non-profits to expand research-based practices in outdoor education.

Recent studies show that kids today are spending less time outside than previous generations and more time on screens. Yet the benefits of time outdoors and connecting with nature are numerous, including:

  • Better school performance
  • Increased health and fitness and improved cognitive function and more creativity
  • Less depression, stress, and hyperactivity
  • More exposure to natural light and lots of outdoor physical activity improves children’s natural sleep rhythms
  • A longer life span and healthier adult life

the No Child Left Inside Act will help provide federal grants to states for partnerships between school districts and parks, natural resource management agencies, educator preparation programs, and museums or other organizations with expertise in engaging young people with real world examples of environmental and scientific concepts. The legislation also establishes a pilot program for outdoor school education programs that offer intensive, hands-on learning experiences, such as residential programs and summer camps.

the No Child Left Inside Act also wants to help coordinate federal efforts on environmental education. It requires the Secretary of Education to establish an environmental literacy advisory panel to coordinate and report on environmental literacy activities across federal agencies. It will also provide easy access to environmental education resources through the Department of Education’s website.

When children explore the outdoors, it increases their physical activity level and may also help boost their self-esteem and improve their academic performance in other subjects. A study by the American Institutes for Research shows that children who participated in outdoor education programs significantly raised their science test scores by 27 percent, as measured by a pre- and post-survey administered immediately upon their return to school.

Companion legislation is being introduced into the US House of Representatives by Congressman John Sarbanes (D-MD).

the No Child Left Inside Act has the support of nearly 100 organizations, representing educators, parks, museums, environmental organizations, and community-based organizations at the national, state, and local levels.


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