Ranger Steve’s Nature Niche
By Ranger Steve Mueller
No Child Left Inside Coalition (NCLI) has 2,200 organizations that have joined together to examine strategies to re-energize and strengthen partnerships throughout the conservation and education communities. Amidst growing concerns with cutbacks in environmental education in our schools and the impacts of “nature deficit disorder” on the health, well being, and success of our nation‘s youth, organizations flocked to the NCLI cause. To date conservation, education, business, health care, faith-based and recreational organizations throughout the country have joined the Coalition.
NCLI coalition has the opportunity fueled by unprecedented partnerships between schools, federal and state agencies, and community stakeholders, working together towards a common goal of giving students much needed environmental and outdoor education.
What is the effort and purpose? Under the name NCLI, legislation was introduced five years ago and has been building support. It takes years for legislation to be discussed for implementation. Congress is discussing funding opportunities for environmental literacy and seeking state and local school system perspectives on how to incorporate environmental literacy in various subjects to raise student achievement.
Rep. John Sarbanes of Maryland stated, “Environmental education is a down payment for success in education, energy and environmental policy, health care, and our economic competitiveness. Investing in environmental education will help nurture the next generation of scientists, promote environmental stewardship, and encourage Americans to live healthier lives.”
Research has indicated that hands-on environmental education has a measurably positive impact not only on student achievement in science, but also in reading, social studies, and mathematics.
NCLI Progress Report:
1. Introduction of NCLI legislation in Congress to make environmental and outdoor education systemic in the nation‘s K-12 schools.
2. Efforts in more than 40 States are developing to implement statewide environmental literacy plans.
3. Inclusion of environmental education in Blueprint for Reform of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act – the first time environmental education has been identified as a priority by the U.S. Department of Education.
4. Creation of an advisory panel of stakeholders and development of a vision to plan for the future of environmental education.
The previous information has been gleaned from the NCLI newsletter.
It is my hope that members of local conservation organizations will discuss NCLI at club events and become partners to get youth outdoors for experiential education with their club members and to support environmental and outdoor education in schools programs. Schools cannot succeed alone. Conservation groups cannot succeed alone. Society needs committed individuals and individuals need a committed society to succeed. Nature Niches are intertwined.
Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at the firstname.lastname@example.org Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433.