Letter to the editor: Help No Baby Left Inside to spice up outside schooling

Addressing pressing environmental issues requires an investment in our youth and educators. No Child Left Inside is exactly this critical investment. Introduced by Sen. Susan Collins, this bipartisan bill would strengthen environmental education in America’s schools.

A recent analysis of environmental education research by Stanford University found a 98 percent positive impact from students gaining knowledge from environmental education. It also found students who participate in outdoor education programs score significantly higher on measures of critical thinking. Perseverance, self-confidence, motivation and leadership are but a few of the skills students report gaining and are crucial in the development of the next generation of problem solvers and civic leaders. Furthermore, No Child Left Inside’s emphasis on teacher professional development would equip educators to facilitate meaningful learning experiences for their students.

Maine is a national leader in environmental education and outdoor learning. With the additional funding from this bill, schools could ensure that youth have powerful outdoor and environmental learning experiences. The bill’s focus on educator support and community partnerships 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.

No Child Left Inside will also fund a national pilot program for outdoors schools that provide overnight, immersive environmental education programs at Living & Learning centers, including Chewonki, Schoodic Institute, The Ecology School and the University of Maine 4-H Centers. We are incredibly grateful for Sen. Collins’ cosponsorship of this legislation and her investment in youth across the country.

Amara Ifeji
director, youth engagement and policy, Maine Environmental Education Association

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