US Senator Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, wants to make more young school children “climate advocates” and create more summer camps and residential education programs focused on the environment.
Merkley, along with US senses Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, want $150 million a year from the federal government to expand environmental programs in public schools.
This includes funding a federal pilot project offering grants and other funds for summer camps and residential programs.
They call the measure No Child Left Inside Act – a play on the No Child Left Behind agenda pushed by former President George W. Bush.
The new proposal aims to fund K-12 teachers’ efforts to integrate environmental literacy and outdoor activities into lesson plans. They also hope to foster more partnerships between schools, colleges and nonprofit organizations to help with more outdoor education.
Merkley hopes the programs will help more students become interested in the outdoors and environmental stewardship.
“Just as the coasts, forests and deserts of Oregon have long been woven into the spirit of our state, America’s incredible public lands have made an invaluable contribution to every region of our country,” Merkley said in a statement. communicated. “It is our responsibility to be good stewards of these treasures – and to ensure that our children have the knowledge and resources to continue this stewardship – so that these treasures can be enjoyed by future generations of hikers, hunters , fishermen and other outdoor recreation enthusiasts. I look forward to working with Sens. Reed and Collins to ensure that our children and future climate advocates have the education, experience and knowledge of the world around them to protect the great outdoors of Oregon and America for years to come.
Some environmental and conservation groups, such as the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Sierra Club, and Nature Conservancy, have educational programs aimed at K-12 schools. A number of major environmental groups as well as teachers’ unions support the new bill.
The effort comes as conservatives lobby against public school curricula that look at sexual orientation, gender identity, climate change and critical race theory. The latter examines the historical and contemporary impact of racism, slavery and segregation on American institutions.
Merkley and his senatorial cohorts are also touting the benefits of getting school kids out more. A study by the American Institutes for Research shows that children who participated in outdoor education programs significantly increased their science test scores by 27%, according to the senators.
“Our bipartisan bill will help more children get outside and ensure they learn about the world around them so they can better care for it and each other. Environmental awareness should be second nature to our young people and protecting the environment is crucial for future economic growth,” said Reed.