By Jolene Brink
Jolene is part of the Wolf Ridge marketing team. Her favorite season is the North Shore of Minnesota right about now.
Wolf Ridge is among nearly 100 organizations endorsing a new bill for the No Child Left Inside Act (NCLI) authored by Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) to expand and strengthen hands-on, outdoor learning opportunities for elementary and secondary school students around the country — policy directly in line with our mission as an organization.
The No Child Left Inside Act would provide grants for states and school districts to integrate environmental education, including climate change education, into their core academic programs in accordance with statewide environmental literacy plans. It would support critical teacher professional learning and incentivize schools to use school facilities and school grounds for environmental and outdoor learning. The bill would authorize $150 million annually through 2027.
The NCLI bill also includes a national pilot program for Outdoor Schools For All, which would build on successful statewide models such as those in place in Oregon and Washington. Wolf Ridge is leading discussions with Minnesota leaders regarding the potential to follow this Outdoor School For All initiative for the students in our own state. (We’re proud to note that Minnesota’s current State Plan for Environmental Education was led by and co-authored by former graduate training naturalist Michael Kennedy.) We’re also working closely with the Association of Nature Center Administrators and a small group of national residential environmental learning center leaders to help advance the NCLI bill.
These are great steps forward for our country, and at a critical time. The children of the nation need this now, more than ever, as we come out of the pandemic and look to the future.