Get ’em outside

ESA is a member of the No Child Left Inside coalition, a group of American societies, institutions and other coalitions trying to reverse the trend that today’s youth are spending less and less time outside, to the detriment of themselves and society. At the core of this problem, says the Coalition, is the lack of dedicated environmental education in our K-12 schools.

This video points out some startling statistics, like the fact that most young people can identify over 1000 corporate logos but fewer than 10 plants or animals in their backyards. A February report in PNAS also cites declining nature-based recreation in the U.S., likely part of the cause of the youth obesity epidemic.

The Coalition cites the No Child Left Behind act as a major detractor from outdoor and environmental education because many schools respond to NCLB by ramping up teaching in math and language arts to the detriment of science and social studies, the subjects that traditionally have outside components. With concerns about global climate change and an impending energy crisis on the rise, we also have a responsibility to make sure that today’s youth understand their natural environment and how to protect it.

NCLI is working on the No Child Left Inside Act, legislation that will increase funding and support for environmental education in K-12 classrooms.

As ecologists, we often pride ourselves in having large outdoor components to our work. But really, any subject – even, as shown in the video, poetry – can be augmented by outdoor learning.

Author: Christine Buckley

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