What the Nation’s Governors are Doing to Leave No Child Inside

By Richard Louv

What the Nation’s Governors are Doing to Leave No Child Inside

Within the past two years, ten governors have launched state initiatives or served on a national forum. These are the activities that we know of, to date:

• In New Mexico, Gov. Bill Richardson signed the New Mexico Outdoor Classrooms initiative, SB 2, a collaboration between the Public Education Department and New Mexico State Parks. This first-of-a-kind program provides strategies to get schools to parks and parks to schools. http://www.cnaturenet.org/01_news_center/articles/LNCI_ACTS.html

• Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire signed HB 1677 to create an outdoor education and recreation grant program for underserved children. The legislation puts in place sustainable funding for outdoor education and recreation programs that will engage underserved children. The bill passed the House on a 97-0 unanimous vote. Budget Vice-Chair Hans Dunshee, when announcing the legislation, dubbed it the Leave No Child Inside Act. http://www.cnaturenet.org/01_news_center/articles/LNCI_ACTS.html

• In Connecticut, Gov. Jodi Rell launched a No Child Left Inside program last year that, among other things, allows foster families to use state parks free and encourages families to visit parks through a contest called the Great Park Pursuit. In 2007, hundreds of Connecticut families accepted the second-annual pursuit challenge and enjoyed a variety of outdoor activities. http://www.nochildleftinside.org/

• In August, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will sign a proclamation supporting the California Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights, conceived by the California Roundtable on Recreation, Parks and Tourism (CRRPT), an ad hoc group of public and private organizations from federal, state and local levels. The bill includes 10 easy and fun things that every young child should have the opportunity to experience outside. http://gov.ca.gov/index.php?/proclamation/6883/

• In August, Maine Gov. John Baldacci unveiled Maine's "Take It Outside" initiative aimed at encouraging young people to spend less time on the couch and more time outdoors. On July 31, Maine Gov. John Baldacci was joined by two Olympic gold medal winners — 1984 medalist Joan Benoit-Samuelson and 2006 medalist Seth Wescott — in announcing the program during an event in Cape Elizabeth.

• In July, Gov. Mike Beebe announced Arkansas should be leader in environmental education. The governor made that statement at a conference of 300 teachers, keynoted by Richard Louv. Afterward, a group of 40 leaders in health, education and recreation met to discuss how to launch a children and nature campaign in Arkansas. "Arkansas can and should be a leader -- it's our motto, the Natural State -- to encourage our young people to be able to get out and enjoy the outdoors," said Gov. Mike Beebe, speaking at the teachers' workshop on environmental education.

• In June 2007, Gov. Jim Douglas launched the No Child Left Inside challenge – a program to encourage young Vermonters to get outside. The program was part of the governor's Fit and Healthy Kids Initiative, and a collaborative effort among various state agencies and Vermont's outdoor recreation and health organizations. The program ran through July. http://www.vermont.gov/tools/whatsnew2/

• Gov. Edward Rendell of Pennsylvania appointed a task force to organize and coordinate a series of public meetings to explore ways to help people connect with nature. The announcement came at the close of the Governor's Outdoor Conference in March. http://www.connectoutdoors.state.pa.us

• The governors of four states, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Montana, serve as co-chairs of the Conservation Fund’s Children and Nature Forum. Several mayors also serve on the Forum, including the mayors of Chicago and Houston. Richard Louv serves as