Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

January 11, 2010

Eileen Larrabee
Dan Keefe

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Is 1,500th Member of NCLI Coalition

Goal: To Improve Achievement and Prepare Students for the Future

Citing the critical need to improve environmental education across the country, the national No Child Left Inside (NCLI) coalition today welcomed the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation as the 1,500th member of the NCLI Coalition.

"We are thrilled to have the New York State Parks join the coalition at this critical juncture," said coalition director Don Baugh. "Under the leadership of Commissioner Carol Ash, New York's parks, education programs, and interpretive centers provide important opportunities for young people to experience nature up close, and whet their appetite to learn about the natural world."

Research shows that when environmental education is integrated into the curriculum, student achievement increases in core academic areas including science, math, and reading. Additional research finds that schools that teach the core subjects using the environment as an integrating context also demonstrate reduced discipline and classroom management problems; increased engagement and enthusiasm for learning; and greater student pride and ownership in accomplishments.

The NCLI legislation authorizes new funding for states to provide high-quality, environmental instruction. Funds would support outdoor learning activities both at school and in non-formal environmental education centers, teacher professional development, and the creation of state environmental literacy plans.

"The promotion and support of environmental education and outdoor activities are critically important to the preservation and protection of parks and open space," said Ash. "The students of today are the future caregivers and stewards of our nation's environmental assets. Failure to teach our young people to value and embrace their natural surroundings, puts at risk our irreplaceable forests, beaches, lakes, meadows and trails. I am proud to add my support and advocacy to this coalition."

Congress is expected to move the Elementary and Secondary Education Act this spring, and the coalition is encouraging legislators to include provisions of the NCLI legislation, including funding for local school systems and improved standards for environmental literacy.The coalition also commended the work of Governor David Paterson, who joined with 15 other governors in a letter calling on Education Secretary Arne Duncan to support the NCLI legislation. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is a co-sponsor, and the national NCLI coalition is encouraging Senator Charles Schumer to co-sponsor the legislation as well.

"New York has been a leader in the effort to pass this legislation, with more than 75 groups and organizations participating in the coalition," Baugh said. "We are seeing a growing movement recognizing the value of environmental education and experiences, and New York is helping to lead the way."

Initially comprised of just a handful of organizations, in three years the NCLI Coalition has spawned nothing short of a national grassroots movement. Its growing membership is both geographically and culturally diverse and includes environmental, educational, business, public health, outdoor recreation, and conservation groups. With tens of millions of members represented, the NCLI Coalition has become the leading voice for environmental education, speaking for a diverse group of Americans who believe young people should receive a meaningful and robust education about their natural world.