RELEASE: Lawmakers introduce bipartisan legislation to get children outdoors


JULY 12, 2017

Contact: Jackie Ostfeld; 202-548-6584;

Lawmakers introduce bipartisan legislation to get children outdoors

Washington, DC — Members of congress on both sides of the aisle just came together to help get our kids outdoors. The Every Kid Outdoors Act (S. 1522; H.R. 3186), introduced by Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Representatives Niki Tsongas (D-MA-03), Scott Tipton (R-CO-03), Diana DeGette (D-CO-01), and Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21) would encourage fourth graders and their families to visit America’s natural, cultural, and historical treasures. The bill authorizes the Department of the Interior, U.S. Forest Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Army Corps of Engineers, to administer a pass program to provide free entry for fourth graders and their families to visit our national public lands, waters, and shores.

In response to the introduction of the Every Kid Outdoors Act, OAK members issued the following statements:

“The Outdoors Alliance for Kids applauds the introduction of new bipartisan legislation to expand opportunities for children to get outdoors. Today’s youth spend more time indoors than any generation in history, with dire consequences for their health and well-being. The Every Kid Outdoors Act is a low-cost, common sense solution to encourage children to get active and learn about the public lands, waters and shores that make America so special. This legislation will help turn the tide on a generation left inside and OAK looks forward to working across the aisle to see this bill signed into law.” – Jackie Ostfeld, Co-Founder and Chair, Outdoors Alliance for Kids

“Every child deserves the opportunity to get outdoors, regardless of where they live. We applaud the bipartisan Every Kid Outdoors Act which would encourage more children and families to explore and enjoy America’s public lands. The Sierra Club looks forward to the passage of this critical legislation and will help make this vision a reality as part of our ongoing work to ensure everyone has access to nature.” – Loren Blackford, President, Sierra Club

“The Every Kid Outdoors Act is a powerful way to make it easier for youth to explore our parks and public lands. We believe that exposure to outdoor spaces helps encourage a lifelong sense of adventure and respect for the environment for youth and their families, something we value deeply at The North Face. Together with the Outdoors Alliance for Kids and the Every Kid in a Park program, we can help every child experience our parks and public lands.” – Arne Arens, President, The North Face

“The Wilderness Society applauds the introduction of the Every Kid Outdoors (EKO) Act, which authorizes the Every Kid in a Park program, providing free entry for fourth graders and their families to visit our parks, monuments and other public lands. We are proud to support the important work of the Every Kid in a Park program that is a part of the national effort to break down barriers to access and connect more young Americans with wild places. Our public lands belong to all of us and the EKO Act will help kids have a chance to visit and discover America’s unique outdoor wonders.” – Jamie Williams, President, The Wilderness Society

“We enthusiastically support the Every Kid in a Park program to connect all 4th graders to our public lands. Connecting children to nature is critically important to their health and well-being, and to the future of our shared outdoor heritage. We commend all the public private partnerships that have come together to provide transportation support, one of the factors limiting too many children’s opportunities to benefit from nature in their everyday lives.” – Sarah Milligan-Toffler, Executive Director, Children & Nature Network

“The National Recreation and Park Association applauds the Every Kid in a Park program to connect every fourth grader to a park. Our members stand ready to welcome young students in communities across the country to explore the many close-to-home public parks and recreation opportunities, and encourage all children regardless of age, race or background to discover all of our nation’s parks!” Barbara Tulipane, President and CEO, National Recreation and Park Association

“Alliance for Childhood is enthusiastic about the opportunities the Every Kid Outdoors Act will provide for fourth graders and their families. Together with our partners at Outdoors Alliance for Kids, we look forward to working with federal agencies to ensure all children’s healthy development, especially through outdoor play in our natural world.” – Linda Rhoads, Executive Director, Alliance for Childhood

“On behalf of our Corps and the Partnership for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC), we congratulate Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Representatives Niki Tsongas (D-MA-03), Scott Tipton (R-CO-03), and Diana DeGette (D-CO-01) for the introduction of the bi-partisan Every Kid Outdoors Act, and thank them for their dedication to ensuring quality outdoor opportunities for children and youth. We look forward to helping develop and lead activities that engage and educate kids outdoors and continue stewardship of public lands and waters to ensure safe and accessible spaces for recreation. Increased opportunity through this legislation for kids and youth to get outside, recreate, and experience all the outdoors has to offer will boost our $887 billion recreation economy and develop the next generation of outdoor leaders and entrepreneurs.” Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President of The Corps Network and Chair of the Partnership for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC)

“​YMCA of the USA fully endorses the Every Kid Outdoors legislation and the vision and mission it inspires. To show our commitment to the legislation, the Y will continue to encourage local YMCAs across the country to provide healthy outdoor experiences at local, state and national parks to the 970,000 children and youth that participate in summer camping programs. Additionally, YMCA will continue to work in 50 cities, thanks to continued support from American Express to support Every Kid in a Park through existing activities and partnerships on public lands. Through these 50 cities partnerships in 2015 and 2016, 650,000 youth and 775,000 adults volunteered on public lands—with 70% of the volunteer activities in National Parks. Ys in 10 cities will continue their partnership with National Park Service sites to give thousands of children their first camp and National Park experience and to engage teens in their first employment opportunity in a camp program—a total of 15,750 children and youth were served in 2015 and 2016.” – Katie Adamson, Senior Director Health Partnerships and Policy, YMCA of the USA

“National Park Trust is dedicated to cultivating the next generation of park stewards through its youth education programs – Kids to Parks Day and the Buddy Bison School Program. The Every Kid in a Park initiative has been a critical partner in this effort and NPT fully supports the Every Kid Outdoors Act, which if enacted, will ensure that the next generation of children will have inspirational outdoor experiences through direct engagement with our nation’s parks and historic treasures.” – Grace Lee, Executive Director, National Park Trust

“Outdoor activities are essential and popular elements of the Girl Scout experience and provide opportunities for girls to discover, connect, and take action out-of-doors in ways that build courage, confidence, and character. The inclusive, girl-led, all female environment of a Girl Scout troop creates a safe space in which girls develop a range of skills, take leadership roles, and explore their potential. According to research, 9 out of 10 girls who participated in a monthly outdoor activity found that it directly provided them with the opportunity to try new things, improve skills, take risks and help other girls. These experiences increase girls’ understanding and curiosity about the natural world, build outdoor skills, and adventure opportunities that drive girls’ interest, competence and confidence to become environmental stewards.” – Sylvia Acevedo, CEO, Girl Scouts of the USA

“The Trust for Public Land applauds the introduction of the Every Kid Outdoors Act to connect 4th graders with public lands. Connecting our children and their families to the outdoors – as this bill will do – is important to a healthy future. The Trust for Public Land has established a vision goal of creating a park within a 10-minute walk of everyone in America’s cities. We will work to leverage the goals of the Every Kid in a Park program as it encourages other to adopt the 10-minute walk standard for providing nearby access to parks and open space.” – Will Rogers, President & CEO, Trust for Public Land

Outdoor Afro enthusiastically supports the Every Kid in a Park program. Outdoor Afro celebrates and inspires African American connections to nature. We do this with our team of 65 trained outdoor recreation and conservation leaders, representing 30 states with over 24,000 outdoor event participants of all ages. We also reach millions more through a coordinated social media effort that has successfully shifted the visual representation and narrative of who gets outdoors.” – Rue Mapp, Founder and CEO, Outdoor Afro

“As a father, climber and CEO of the American Alpine Club, I have spent most of my professional life unveiling the wonders of our country’s mountains to kids and adults. With the passage of Every Kid Outdoors Act, all fourth graders and their families will have the chance to experience the spirit of adventure and exploration on our federal lands and waters, without cost. Any climber will tell you that achievement depends upon your vision and your dreams. We’re optimistic about what fourth graders will achieve when they get to experience the magic of our public lands.” – Phil Powers, Executive Director, American Alpine Club

“Now more than ever we must join forces to give future generations the same opportunities we enjoyed to experience the great outdoors. EKO Act is a critical step in creating appreciation for, and the emotional connection to the great outdoors.” – Bruce Ward, President, Choose Outdoors; Advisor, Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Council

“Seed Your Future wholeheartedly supports the Every Kid Outdoors Act, and all programs that encourage kids and families to learn about, enjoy and play together in the natural world. For the next generation to appreciate, preserve and protect our parks – and consider careers in the industry — they need frequent, affordable opportunities to discover the joys of nature. We look forward to the swift passage of EKO Act and continuing the opportunities to connect young people with a world that fosters their creativity, provides physical and mental health benefits, and helps them understand the world that provides life, food and wonder.” – Susan E. Yoder, Executive Director, Seed Your Future

“Every child, regardless of their zip code or the amount of money in their bank account, deserves to have regular, easy access to the outdoors, to play, learn, explore and grow. Every Kid in a Park opens the doors for all 4th graders to explore our public lands and waters, experiencing the rich cultural and biological diversity of our beautiful country. The California Outdoor Engagement Coalition applauds the bipartisan support of the Every Kid Outdoors Act.” – Jenny Mulholland-Beahrs, Director, California Outdoor Engagement Coalition

“This legislation is long overdue, and if passed, will tell the American public that Congress is willing to work together for our nation’s children.” – Kyle Macdonald, Executive Director, Outdoors Empowered Network

“The impact of outdoor activity on the long-term success for youth has been consistently demonstrated. SOS Outreach is proud to be a part of the Every Kid in a Park program and supports the passage of Every Kid Outdoors Act. We look forward to the expansion of opportunities for youth to benefit from experience with their public lands.” – Seth Ehrlich, Executive Director, SOS Outreach

“The North American Association for Environmental Education joins colleagues and partners in applauding the introduction of the bipartisan Every Kid Outdoors Act. Our nation’s parks and public lands provide unparalleled outdoor environmental education experiences for tens of thousands of children and their families each year. These authentic learning opportunities are essential to inspiring today’s youth to become lifelong stewards of natural resources and providing them with knowledge and skills for success in the 21st century workforce.” – Judy Braus, Executive Director, North American Association for Environmental Education


About the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK): OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in connecting children, youth, and families with the outdoors. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the wellness of current and future generations, the health of our planet and communities, and the economy of the future depend on humans having a personal, direct, and life-long relationship with nature and the outdoors. OAK brings together nearly 100 businesses and organizations, representing more than 60 million individuals to address the growing divide between children, youth, and the natural world. For more information:



Published by Jackie Ostfeld, OAK Chair

My name is Jackie Ostfeld. I am the co-founder and Chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids and the Director of Sierra Club's Outdoors for All campaign. I am an advocate for connecting kids with nature. Views are my own.

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