WCS Applauds Introduction of the No Child Left Inside Act to Advance Environmental Education
Legislation Would Provide Teacher Training and Integration across Core Subjects
Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) Champion the Bill in Congress
WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 14, 2011) – The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) applauded today’s introduction of the No Child Left Inside Act in Congress. Through environmentally-focused professional development for teachers and access to the field trips and other out-of-school learning opportunities, the legislation will ensure that today’s schools create a generation of ecologically literate citizens that can effectively cope with the environmental challenges that lay ahead. The bill was introduced by Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) and enjoys bipartisan support led by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL).
With an increased emphasis on meeting education standards and frameworks and with often severe cutbacks in field trip budgets, school systems have had to drastically reduce environmental education programming. This includes both classroom studies as well as out-of-school activities that enable children to understand key environmental issues and form a meaningful connection to the environment. The No Child Left Inside Act aims to keep the environment as part of the curriculum.
“The ultimate goal of environmental education is to develop an environmentally literate citizenry,” said John F. Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs. “More than ever, we need to connect our children with the natural world, teach them the value and fragility of our natural heritage, and help them to understand the environmental challenges they will face in the years ahead. Zoos and aquariums play a critical role in advancing environmental education, and I urge the passage of the No Child Left Inside Act and applaud its champions in Congress.”
In 1929, WCS established the first zoo education department at the Bronx Zoo, and since that time, it has gone on to establish innovative environmental education programs that have served as national models. More recently, an innovative partnership with the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation, a public school in New York City, uses environmental science and wildlife conservation as central themes and vehicles through which to engage middle- and high-school students from underserved communities in interdisciplinary learning.
“Teaching children about the environment and giving them a hands-on opportunity to experience nature makes them smarter and healthier. Environmental education should be an important part of the curriculum in our schools. This legislation will reconnect more kids with nature and help raise student achievement in core subjects like math, science, and reading,” said Senator Jack Reed (D-RI). “Environmental awareness should be second nature for our young people and protecting the environment is crucial to future economic growth.”
“By creating an environmental education grant program and providing teacher training for environmental education across the curriculum, we can prepare our children for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics jobs that will be the cornerstone of the United States’ 21st century economy,” said Congressman John Sarbanes (D-MD). “Research shows that hands-on, outdoor environmental education has a measurably positive impact not only on student achievement in science, but also in reading, math, and social studies.”
Informal science institutions (ISIs), such as zoos, botanical gardens, nature centers and natural history museums, account for much of the environmental education done outside of classrooms. Learning at ISIs actively engages students, promotes critical thinking, and absorbs students in subject matter. In addition, zoos and aquariums formally trained more than 400,000 teachers, supporting science curricula with effective teaching materials and hands-on opportunities over the last 10 years.
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The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes toward nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.