Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12) today joined a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives to pass the No Child Left Inside (NCLI) Act, legislation that would expand and improve existing federal environmental education programs. Included in the legislation is an initiative, written into the bill by Holt and Rep. Mark Souder (IN-3) when it was before the House Committee on Education and Labor, which would allow local and state education agencies to use NCLI grants to coordinate with federal resource management agencies, including the National Park Service, the United States Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Fish and Wildlife Service. The Senate still needs to pass the bill.
"Environmental education is best understood by those who have had the opportunity to touch it, breathe it, and live it," Holt said. "Where better to learn about the importance of our national resources than in our nation's most special and protected places? Imagine learning about the ecosystems in Great Swamps National Wilderness Refuge in New Jersey rather than learning about it in the abstract in a classroom, or seeing the effects of climate change first hand at Glacier National Park, or learning about the human genome project in Yellowstone where crucial breakthroughs about DNA were made."
Holt's initiative would help encourage schools to take advantage of federal lands as a tool for teaching children about the environment and public lands. Nearly 400 national parks have the ability to serve as interactive classrooms for lessons in science, history, math, geology, and civics. The National Parks Conservation Association has endorsed Holt's initiative.
NCLI extends the National Environmental Education Act of 1990, which provides funding for teacher training and support programs. The law encourages the development of outdoor environmental education activities as a regular part of curriculum. It also helps states develop and implement state academic content standards, student academic achievement standards, and state curriculum frameworks in environmental education.
"This federal investment in environmental education would help prepare our nation's youth as responsible citizens who value and protect America's resources and landscapes," Holt said. "Environmental education is about more than just science - these programs can be designed to have a positive impact in reading, math, and social studies."