All posts by OAK

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

RELEASE: OAK 2017 Award Winners Announced

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, October 27, 2017

Contact: Jackie Ostfeld, 202-548-6584, jackie.ostfeld@outdoorsallianceforkids.org

OAK 2017 Award Winners Announced

lawmakers from both of sides of the aisle recognized for leadership

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) announced the recipients of the 2017 “OAK Awards.” A bipartisan and bicameral group of lawmakers including Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Representative Niki Tsongas (D-MA-3), and Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21), and several OAK members received awards during the annual meeting of the Alliance.

The “OAK Awards” are bestowed annually on a bipartisan and bicameral cohort of decision-makers and OAK members for significant contributions in advancing opportunities for children, youth, and families to learn, get active, and serve in the outdoors.

OAK Tree Award Recipients (Decision-Makers):

Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM): recognized for leadership in connecting children and youth with our parks and public lands, and advancement of the Every Kid Outdoors Act.

“Our national parks and public lands are outdoor classrooms with endless opportunities to learn and make memories,” said Senator Heinrich. “Connecting kids to the outdoors can inspire a lifelong connection to conservation, while reaping all of the health benefits that go along with an active lifestyle. I am grateful for the support and work of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids that helps kids and their families access the rich natural and cultural history on display in our parks, forests, and monuments.”

Senator John McCain (R-AZ): recognized for leadership in supporting career pathway programs for youth and veterans in conservation, and advancement of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act.

Representative Niki Tsongas (D-MA-3): recognized for leadership in connecting children and youth with our parks and public lands, and advancement of the Every Kid Outdoors Act.

“Thank you to OAK for this award but even more so for your members’ dedicated efforts to encourage kids and families to get outside and enjoy the beautiful spaces that play such an important role in our communities,” said Congresswoman Tsongas. “Together, we must continue to inspire a new and more diverse generation to embrace a healthy, active lifestyle, learn about our country’s natural and historic treasures, and fall in love with our public lands and the outdoors.”

Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21): recognized for leadership in connecting children and youth with our parks and public lands, and advancement of the Every Kid Outdoors Act.

“I thank the Outdoors Alliance for Kids for this award, but also for their tireless efforts on behalf of our nation’s children,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “The Every Kid Outdoors Act will encourage our nation’s children to see our beautiful treasures and monuments, learning about our rich national heritage in the process. This will help cultivate their appreciation for protecting our environment and public lands. As the home of the Adirondacks, in my district we know how critical it is to get our children outdoors exploring our parks, and I am pleased to work in a bipartisan fashion with my colleagues on this issue.”

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Members of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids present Congresswoman Niki Tsongas with the OAK Tree Award.

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Members of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids present Congresswoman Elise Stefanik with the OAK Tree Award.

OAK Leaf Award Recipients (OAK Members):

Kyle Stewart, Alliance of New York State YMCAs: recognized for work to pass Assembly Bill 735 into law to develop a long-term strategy to encourage and promote outdoor environmental education and recreational opportunities in New York State.  

Upon receiving the award, Kyle Stewart, Executive Director of the Alliance of New York State YMCAs said, the Alliance of New York State YMCAs is honored to receive the OAK Leaf Award and appreciates this recognition for our work to achieve legislation that encourages and promotes outdoor education and recreational opportunities. We are proud to work with such an esteemed alliance that strives for the health and well-being of our kids.”

Casey Andrews, Seattle Every Kid in a Park Collaborative: recognized for work to advance the Every Kid in a Park program across Seattle. The “Collaborative,” supported by OAK members Islandwood, Seattle YMCA, NatureBridge, and Washington Trails Association, along with the National Park Service, National Forest Service, Seward Park Audubon, Seattle Parks and Recreation and Steven’s Pass Ski Resort work together to increase engagement in the outdoors for Seattle youth, including through the federal Every Kid in a Park program which provides 4th graders and their families with encouragement and a free access pass to national parks and public lands.

Upon receiving the award, Casey Andrews of the Seattle EKIP Collaborative said, “It is an honor to receive the Leaf Award on behalf of the Seattle Every Kid in a Park Collaborative. The Seattle EKIP Collaborative is working together to decrease barriers and increase engagement for Seattle youth with multiple outdoor engagement opportunities, including the 4th grader federal lands pass. We do this to connect youth with their community parks and federal lands to foster the next generation of environmental stewards. I would like to thank OAK for their continued work to engage youth and families across the country. It is a privilege to be a member of such a committed and accomplished alliance.”

Paul Sanford, The Wilderness Society: recognized for his leadership in advancing OAK’s advocacy efforts and building strong federal partnerships for the Alliance in service of getting more kids outdoors on federal lands and waters.

Upon receiving the award, Paul Sanford, National Director of Recreation Policy at The Wilderness Society, and OAK Vice Chair said, “The Wilderness Society is honored to be recognized by the members of OAK for our contributions to the work of the Alliance. We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with so many visionary leaders in building a movement to get more kids outside.”

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From left to right: Kyle Stewart, Alliance of New York State YMCAs; Casey Andrews, Seattle Every Kid in a Park Collaborative; and Paul Sanford, The Wilderness Society: OAK Leaf Award Recipients 2017.

The awards were announced during OAK Week, the annual meeting of the alliance. The OAK Awards program was established in 2016.

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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 to address the growing divide between children, youth, and the outdoors.

Pisces Foundation: Investments in People and Nature Thriving Together

– Interview with Jason Morris, Pisces Foundation, by Jackie Ostfeld, Outdoors Alliance for Kids 

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The Pisces Foundation is working to advance strategic solutions to natural resource challenges and prepare the next generation by supporting environmental education. Pisces believes if we act now and boldly, we can quickly accelerate to a world where people and nature thrive together. Pisces mainstreams powerful new solutions to support innovators who know what it takes and are doing what’s necessary to have clean and abundant water, a safe climate, and kids with the environmental know-how to create a sustainable world.

I asked Jason Morris, Environmental Education Senior Program Officer at the Pisces Foundation, to share his thoughts on where the movement to connect kids with the outdoors is heading. The Pisces Foundation is a new supporter of OAK and we’re honored by their commitment to the field. Enjoy the interview here.


Jason, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your own interest in environmental education. Why is this field important to you personally?

For me, like many in the environmental education field, nature has shaped who I am and what I do.

When I was 12 years old, I lived for the summer. I would fish in the canal by my house, care for the animals on my family’s farm, and explore the wonders of the natural world as often as I could. I remember one of my first camping trips into Rocky Mountain National Park. It was right after the first snowfall of the year. My family stumbled upon a huge meadow, where it seemed like every elk in the entire world had gathered. I was mesmerized. I stood there and stared as they grazed and mingled. For a moment, I felt like part of the herd. I was completely struck by an overwhelming feeling—awe. This story, among thousands of other experiences I’ve had in nature throughout my life, stands out to me. I share this story because feeling awe, even for a moment, can truly shake the foundation of what we believe.

As a kid, I yearned to be in nature as often as possible. Growing up, I always hoped to experience the natural world, at home, at work, and at play. I have made it my life’s work to ensure that more people, at all ages, get to experience the benefits of nature—and not just in the summer!

Tell us about the hopes and dreams the Pisces Foundation has for environmental education?

At Pisces Foundation, we believe that when kids gain the environmental know-how they need to thrive in a rapidly changing world, we’ll see smarter decisions, stronger communities, and daily actions that improve their well-being and our planet. Environmental education is a proven way to get kids more engaged in learning and active and healthy outdoors. We see that more and more schools, states, and communities are tapping into the many benefits that come with environmental education and making it a part of every child’s experience. Our hope is that every child receives the benefits of environmental education. Environmental education is not a one-time event. It’s a series of life experiences that allow children to grow into adults who embrace responsible behaviors in order to make smarter decisions about the world. Research has shown that the benefits of environmental education can be immediate and long-lasting.

With so many pressing environmental challenges, like climate change, why is it also important for environmental organizations and the philanthropy community to invest in environmental education and getting kids outdoors?

I’m glad you asked this question, because it’s important to think of environmental education as an immediate investment as well as an investment in our future. Environmental education leads to gains in conservation, education, health and wellness, social justice, and youth development. Many of these benefits improve our communities and our planet today. And, kids who experience environmental education can grow up to be responsible, well-prepared citizens, ready to make the choices and decisions necessary to solve the pressing environmental challenges of tomorrow. We know that the sooner we act, the sooner we see the benefits. Solving environmental challenges and investing in environmental education are not an “either-or” division. They are important “both/and” investments that mutually reinforce one another. Both are integral components to get to the point where people and nature can thrive together.

On behalf of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, I cannot thank you and the Pisces Foundation enough for investing in our mission to advocate for equitable and readily available opportunities for children, youth and families to connect with the outdoors. As we enter our first year of collaboration with Pisces, do you have any advice for OAK and our alliance member organizations on how we can work together to expand and improve not just access, but equity in access, to the outdoors and outdoor learning opportunities for children and youth?

Research has shown that environmental learning levels the playing field, across gender and ethnicity. We know that outdoor experiences improve children’s self-esteem, leadership, and character. We know that unstructured play outdoors improves mental and physical health. We know that environmental learning sticks with kids more than traditional learning, that it stokes interest in science, and that it sparks the curiosity that makes kids better learners. We know all of this, yet the average American child spends 4 to 7 minutes a day in unstructured play outdoors, and over 7 hours a day in front of a screen.

What we need is to connect children with nature. Not just some children—all children. Every child not only deserves access to nature, every child requires it. In order to deliver this to every child, we can no longer imagine nature only in the iconic treasured landscapes. To give every child the opportunity to form a lasting connection with nature, we must find nature nearby. We have to re-imagine what and where nature is. Through environmental education, we can give all kids the opportunity to experience the world that left me awe-struck as a 12-year-old. Whether it’s in a meadow watching a herd of elk, or in a city park staring up at a big oak tree, or in their own backyard discovering the joy of nearby nature, environmental education delivers.

How did you get outdoors with your family this summer?

My wife, daughter, and I spent an amazing week along the Metolius River in eastern Oregon. Surrounded by millions of acres of wilderness, we wandered along the banks of the river, canoed across a stunning mountain lake, and biked through the sun-drenched massive pine forest. A perfect opportunity to boost our spirit and nourish our passion for wild places.

RELEASE: The Every Kid in a Park Program Turns Three

For Immediate Release

September 6, 2017

Contact: Jackie Ostfeld, 202-548-6584; contact@outdoorsallianceforkids.org

 

The Every Kid in a Park Program Turns Three

4th graders encouraged to get outdoors; legislation introduced to make program permanent

Washington, D.C.–The third year of the Every Kid in a Park program kicks off this month with the launch of the 2017-18 school year. Through public-private partnerships, the program provides fourth graders and their families with free entry to America’s national public lands, waters, and shores. Children, parents and guardians, and educators can visit www.everykidinapark.gov to learn more and download the new pass.

Earlier this summer, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced the Every Kid Outdoors Act to ensure the program lives on for years to come.

In response, Jackie Ostfeld, Chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, issued the following statement:

“The Every Kid in a Park program is inspiring a new generation to get out and explore America’s great outdoors. At a time when children and youth are increasingly sedentary and disconnected from nature, programs like Every Kid provide entry points for our youth to play, get active, and learn about the outdoors. The program is a low-cost and popular public-private partnership that helps boost local economies while improving our children’s health and connections to nature. In the program’s first year, more than two million fourth graders downloaded the Every Kid pass. Over the first two years, nearly $5 million in private funding has been leveraged to support transportation costs for children from low-income schools across America.

“The Outdoors Alliance for Kids praises the National Park Service, US Forest Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other federal agencies for continuing the program for the 2017-18 school year. To ensure the Every Kid in a Park program continues to encourage and support fourth graders to get outdoors beyond the current school year, OAK seeks passage of the bipartisan and bicameral Every Kid Outdoors Act to formally establish the program for all fourth graders, present and future.”

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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 to address the growing divide between children, youth and the outdoors.

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Every Kid in a Park Alumni explain why they love the program
Photo Credit: National Park Trust

Release: National Park Trust, OAK Receive The North Face 2017 Explore Fund Grant

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For Immediate Release

July 31, 2017

Contact:

Eric Raymond, The North Face, 510-748-2714, eric_raymond@vfc.com

Grace Lee; National Park Trust, 301-279-7275, ext 14, grace@parktrust.org

National Park Trust, Outdoors Alliance for Kids Receive The North Face 2017 Explore Fund Grant

Groups expand access to the outdoors for 4th graders, military kids, advance Every Kid In A Park

Washington, D.C.  – National Park Trust (NPT) and Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) are pleased to announce that The North Face has awarded a $20,000 2017 Explore Fund grant to benefit NPT’s national Buddy Bison School Program. The Buddy Bison Program was created in 2009 with the goal of getting kids from under-served communities engaged with our nation’s parks and public lands.

Hundreds of 4th graders from Title I schools , will kick off the third year of the federal Every Kid in a Park program in 3 cities including Washington, D.C., New York City, and San Francisco. They will participate in marquee events at national parks with The North Face, National Park Trust, OAK, and partners and be welcomed into the Buddy Bison Program which provides park experiences throughout the year promoting 1) health and wellness through outdoor recreation; 2) education using parks as outdoor classrooms for STEM, history and social studies; and 3) park stewardship through volunteer and career opportunities.

“The Outdoors Alliance for Kids supports the Every Kid in a Park program to ensure all fourth graders and their families are encouraged to visit America’s parks and public lands,” said Jackie Ostfeld, Founder and Chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids. “We’re honored and thankful that The North Face has made such an important investment to ensure more and more children are able to have a park experience, and we look forward to growing our partnership. Private investments in the national Every Kid in a Park program are nearing the $5 million mark in just the first few years and contributions like this one from The North Face demonstrate the value the private sector places on the program.”

In addition to the 4th graders from Washington, D.C., New York City, and San Francisco, the Explore Funds awarded to NPT and OAK also provides support for military kids from Scott Air Force Base located in Saint Clair County, Illinois by connecting them to their nearby national park — the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St Louis, Missouri. This new partnership with the Department of Defense is designed to help students discover local parks in their new communities as military families are relocated from one base to another.

“We are delighted to partner with The North Face and Outdoors Alliance for Kids  to provide national park experiences for hundreds of diverse youth. For many of these students, this is their very first park trip, but after a fun and action-packed day, they are eager to return again and again and create even more memories with their friends and family. These young people are our future outdoor enthusiasts and stewards of these iconic treasures,” stated Grace Lee, Executive Director of National Park Trust.

The North Face selected a total of 43 nonprofits that create opportunities for people to develop a passion for the outdoors and desire to care for local parks and public lands. Selected programs use outdoor exploration as a catalyst for positive personal or societal change, to encourage healthy lifestyles, and promote environmental stewardship.

“A desire and willingness to explore and care for our outdoor playgrounds is part of our brand DNA,” said Ann Krcik, senior director of Outdoor Exploration at The North Face. “We are proud to support these outstanding programs that expose participants to benefits of the outdoors. Through The North Face Explore Fund grants, we are building a community of outdoor explorers and inspiring people to love and protect the places where we play.”

As part of its mission to start a global movement of outdoor exploration, The North Face introduced Explore Fund (www.explorefund.org) in 2010 and the program has since provided more than $2.75 million in grants to organizations committed to inspiring people to explore the outdoors and care for the environment.

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About The North Face®

The North Face, a division of VF Outdoor, Inc., was founded in 1966. Headquartered in Alameda, California, the company offers the most technically advanced products in the market to accomplished climbers, mountaineers, snowsport athletes, endurance athletes, and explorers. The company’s products are sold in specialty mountaineering, backpacking, running, and snowsport retailers, premium-sporting goods retailers and major outdoor specialty retail chains.

About National Park Trust

National Park Trust, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is dedicated to preserving parks today and creating park stewards for tomorrow. Established in 1983, NPT has completed park preservation projects benefiting 49 national parks and other public lands in 33 states and Washington, D.C. Since 2009, NPT’s Buddy Bison School Program and national Kids to Parks Day have engaged 3,000,000 students across the country with our national parks, public lands and waters. www.parktrust.org

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 to address the growing divide between children, youth and the outdoors.

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Every Kid Outdoors Twitter Party Roundup

On Friday, July 14th, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids held a Twitter Party to discuss the Every Kid Outdoors Act. The legislation was introduced this week with bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress. Here’s a roundup of our Twitter Party with OAK members and the Congressional sponsors of the bill.

The Every Kid Outdoors Act sponsors have this to say…

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And just why is it so important to get kids outdoors?

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What is the Every Kid Outdoors Act?

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What are some barriers kids face when it comes to connecting with the outdoors?

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How are OAK members stepping up to support the program?

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How does time outdoors impact the health of children?

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How does outdoor time improve learning?

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And there are economic impacts, too, right?

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How can you help get kids outdoors?

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Bonus tweets!

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RELEASE: Lawmakers introduce bipartisan legislation to get children outdoors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JULY 12, 2017

Contact: Jackie Ostfeld; 202-548-6584; contact@outdoorsallianceforkids.org

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

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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: www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org

 

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RELEASE: The White House budget proposal, wrong for our kids and communities

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 23, 2017

Contact: Jackie Ostfeld, jackie.ostfeld@sierraclub.org, 202-548-6584

 

The White House budget proposal, wrong for our kids and communities

Washington, DC–Today, President Donald Trump released his fiscal year 18 budget proposal. The White House has recommended a $3.6 trillion cut to federal spending over the next decade, dealing a major blow to programs that encourage children, youth and families to get outdoors.

In response to the White House budget release, Jackie Ostfeld, co-founder and chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, issued the following statement:

“The White House budget proposal released today puts our children’s health and well-being in jeopardy. Such dramatic spending cuts would severely curtail the ability of our federal agencies to carry out their missions to protect our children by ensuring they have clean and safe air to breathe and water to drink, healthy food to eat, and shared public lands where they can play, learn, and rejuvenate their minds and bodies.

“While presenting a balanced budget is difficult, doing it at the expense of programs and initiatives that invest in our children and youth to have opportunities to get physically active and develop valuable work and life skills in the outdoors is a detriment to our nation.

“Outdoor recreation contributes $887 billion annually to the U.S. economy while supporting more than seven million jobs across America. These cuts would create fewer opportunities for children, youth, and families to be active in the outdoors – an action that foolheartedly removes an essential contribution to this growing economic sector.

“Additionally, the chronic disease in children and childhood obesity continues to be a problem in this nation. Programs that focus on keeping our children active, healthy, and safe in the outdoors are good for our kids and our economy.

“The White House budget eliminates or drastically reduces popular programs across federal agencies that ensure our children and families can safely access the natural world outdoors at a time when three-quarters of adults believe we need more programs that help people enjoy nature and the outdoors.

“Thankfully, the White House does not have the final say on how our government is funded. OAK encourages Congress to take a bipartisan approach to continue to fund these programs that support America’s kids and families. See OAK’s fiscal year 2018 budget appropriations recommendations for Congress.

The White House budget proposal, sample cuts to programs that get kids outdoors (by agency):

Corporation for National and Community Service: -100% (elimination)

  • Complete elimination of the Corporation for National and Community Service which houses AmeriCorps programs that engage more than 80,000 young Americans in service helping address public lands conservation and stewardship needs, disaster response, and local communities struggling with poverty, and hunger.

Department of Commerce (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration): -15.8%

  • Complete elimination for NOAA grant and education programs supporting coastal and marine management, research and education, including elimination of the Sea Grant and Office of Education (Bay-Watershed Education and Training and competitive education) grants.

Department of Education: -13.5%

  • Complete elimination of 21st Century Community Learning Centers program which supports before- and after-school and summer programs for low-income kids, including outdoor programming. Elimination of several other grant programs across the department.

Department of Health and Human Services: -16.2%

  • Reduction of $222 million in chronic disease prevention funding at the CDC which will curb the nation’s ability to invest in physical activity, healthy eating and childhood obesity prevention efforts. Reductions will also occur in heart disease, diabetes and cancer prevention and control efforts.
  • Reductions of $60 million are proposed to CDC’s environmental health programs which include lead prevention efforts, safe water activities, and monitoring environmentally related diseases.

Department of Housing and Urban Development: -13.2%

  • Complete elimination of the Community Development Block Grants program which support local community development activities aimed at neighborhood revitalization, economic development, and improvement of community facilities, such as parks and recreation.

Department of the Interior: -10.9%

  • Practically eliminates the Land and Water Conservation Fund by reducing the budget to $30 million. Department-wide cuts will make it difficult for the agency to achieve its mission let alone encourage spending to get kids outdoors.

Department of Transportation: -12.7%

  • Eliminates the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program. TIGER projects include multi-modal and active transportation projects which significantly enhance safety, walkability, and non-motorized mobility in local communities.

Environmental Protection Agency:  -31.4%

  • A 31% cut to the EPA’s budget, including the elimination of more than 50 agency programs including the offices of environmental education and environmental justice.

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About the Outdoors Alliance for Kids: OAK is a national strategic partnership of nearly 100 businesses and organizations representing more than 60 million Americans, which a common interest in connecting children, youth, and families with the outdoors. OAK’s members 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.

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On Mother’s Day And Beyond, Moms Can Lead The Way In Getting Kids Outdoors

guest blog by
Mary Anne Hitt, Director of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign; and
Jackie Ostfeld, Director of the Sierra Club Nearby Nature Initiative and Co-Founding Chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids

SIERRA CLUB: Mary Anne Hitt with daughter Hazel; Jackie Ostfeld with son Dylan.

As moms, we can’t wait for this Sunday’s holiday, filled with adorable homemade craft projects, meals with family, and lots of hugs. For our families, spending time outdoors is another way of sharing some love – love of our families and of our natural world. It turns out we’re not alone. According to a new report, moms play a pivotal role in inspiring a passion for the outdoors in the next generation.

We love taking our kids (Mary Anne’s daughter Hazel is 7 and Jackie’s son Dylan is almost 2) into the woods and to our local waterways. We all love camping, hiking, gardening, and biking together, and it’s truly magical to see the outdoors through a child’s eyes. They notice the little things, they appreciate what many adults overlook, and we long to keep that fire burning within them as they grow older, both because it will bring them great joy, and because we hope making a connection to nature now will inspire them to protect it as they grow up.

Unfortunately, today’s children are growing up indoors, with fewer opportunities to explore nature than we had in our childhood. In fact, today’s kids spend 50 percent less time outdoors than our generation did as children – isn’t that shocking? Some of the barriers to spending time outdoors are lack of public parks that are safe and close to home, insufficient public transportation connected to natural areas, and school budget cuts which have led to reductions in field trips.

The recent REI report on women in the outdoors highlights some statistics that trouble us:

  • 63 percent of women said they could not think of an outdoor female role model
  • 6 in 10 women say that men’s interests in outdoor activities are taken more seriously than women’s

What role can moms play in changing those statistics? We play a very big part, as it turns out. Here’s the good news from the same REI report: “Mothers are the number one mentor that women cite when asked about who inspires them to get outdoors.” In fact, both of our moms played a key role in inspiring our love for the outdoors, and they are our role models as we do the same for our kids.

SIERRA CLUB: Jackie Ostfeld and son Dylan at the Grand Canyon.

Mother’s Day is an opportunity for moms to continue to inspire and teach the love of the great outdoors to our kids. We know how great it is to be outside – the REI report shows that as well too:

More than 85 percent of all women surveyed believe the outdoors positively affects mental health, physical health, happiness and overall well-being, and 70 percent reported that being outdoors is liberating.

Moms can make amazing strides in getting their kids and families outdoors – it doesn’t have to involve planning a major trip to a National Park (although that’s fun, too!). Encouraging your kids to appreciate the outdoors can start close to home like in a local public park or a community garden. The first steps can be easy, like backyard campouts, exploring the wildlife in the neighborhood – from bugs to birds to flowers – and taking your kids and their friends and moms on hikes in a local park.

This Mother’s Day, get outdoors with your family. Plan some spring and summer hikes or park visits. Moms can and will continue to make a tremendous difference in ensuring kids can enjoy, explore and protect the outdoors. And moms can encourage other moms to help ensure all kids have opportunities to get outdoors, too! Pledge to help ensure all kids have opportunities to experience nature.

Share your story of getting outdoors with your family! Post a photo (new or old) on social media with your mom or your children with #MomsOutdoors or complete the following phrase “My favorite memory with my #momsoutdoors is: ___”

Happy Mother’s Day!

RELEASE: Every Kid in a Park Program Enters Year Two

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Virginia Cramer, 804-519-8449, Virginia.Cramer@sierraclub.org

Every Kid in a Park Program Enters Year Two

Outdoors Alliance for Kids to get tens of thousands of fourth graders outdoors this fall

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids announced its Every Kid in a Park fall program lineup. Just in time for back to school, OAK members are gearing up to host a series of events and programs to connect thousands of fourth graders with their natural and cultural heritage.

The Every Kid in a Park program is designed to encourage all fourth graders to get outdoors. Fourth graders and their parents, teachers and caregivers can visit www.everykidinapark.gov to learn about the initiative, plan a trip and download the fourth grade voucher for free entry to all federal lands. The program also provides transportation funding support for Title 1 schools to reach kids with limited opportunities to experience our public lands, waters and shores.

“OAK is proud to answer President Obama’s call to connect fourth graders across America with the outdoors,” said Jackie Ostfeld, Sierra Club’s Nearby Nature Director and OAK Co-Founder and Chair. “As our kids head back to school, OAK members are working with schools and teachers across America to get Every Kid in a Park to ensure they have opportunities to play and learn, as they connect with the natural world and each other.”

Announcing OAK’s Every Kid in a Park Back to School Fall Events

September – MayREI is partnering with Outdoor Foundation, Outdoor Industry Association and National Park Trust to ensure every public school fourth grader (over 3,300 kids) in Washington, D.C. has a meaningful national park experience this fall. Additional events will take place over the whole school year.

September – November: Wilderness Inquiry’s Canoemobile Fall Tour, a collaborative of more than 400 organizations, will reach more communities and kids than ever before, visiting New York City, Atlanta, Chicago, Washington D.C., St. Louis, Jacksonville, Dayton; and Rochester (MN).

September – November: California Outdoor Engagement Coalition is partnering with California 4-H to bring Every Kid in a Park to seven counties throughout the state to prioritize increased Latino engagement. They are also partnering with the National Park Service, Rosie the Riveter Trust, University of California Berkeley and West Contra Costa Unified School District to bring 1,200 fourth graders from Richmond and surrounding cities to the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Homefront National Historic Park.

September – November: National Park Trust, with the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and National Park Service, will connect 6,600 Title 1 fourth graders from Ventura County, CA to the Channel Islands Visitors Center. Additionally, in partnership with National Park Service and National Park Foundation, National Park Trust will ensure 5,000 fourth graders from 50 schools across the country have a national park experience.

September – November: Conservation Legacy’s La Plazita Institute’s Ancestral Lands’ Barrio Youth Corps is facilitating urban-agricultural and outdoor educational experiences for fourth graders in collaboration with Albuquerque Public Schools and Albuquerque Open-Spaces in New Mexico.

September 2: In Los Angeles, Sierra Club, the I Have A Dream Foundation and the US Forest Service are hosting 50 students from Boyle Heights in the San Gabriel Mountains. Another outing on October 8th will connect an additional 50 fourth graders to the mountains from the City of El Monte with several partners including Bike SGV, Day One, and San Gabriel Mountains Forever.

September 13: In Washington, DC, REI, Outdoor Foundation and National Park Trust will work with students to conduct an in-depth examination of the condition of the statues in Lafayette Park.

September 16: National Park Trust and the National Park Service will bring 34 fourth graders from Vallejo, California to Muir Woods.

September 23-24: National Park Trust and the U.S. Forest Service will bring 40 fourth graders from D.C.’s Creative Minds Public Charter School and Inspired Teaching Public Charter School to camp on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retiree Home on National Public Lands Day.

September 23-25: National Parks Conservation Association and Youthworks will celebrate National Public Lands Day by taking youth to Canyonlands for a Star Party campout in Moab, UT.

September 24: Appalachian Trail Conservancy is inviting families of all ages to participate in 28 different events being hosted along the trail from Georgia to Maine, celebrating National Public Lands Day.

September 27: In New York City, National Park Trust, The North Face, and OAK will co-host an Every Kid in a Park launch event at Gateway National Recreation Area for 90 fourth graders from Amersfort Public School (PS 119) in Brooklyn. This is the first of five events funded by The North Face’s Explore Fund.

October 7:  In Washington, DC, National Park Trust, The North Face, and OAK will co-host an Every Kid in a Park launch event for 60 fourth graders at Rock Creek Park.

October 14: In Washington DC, REI, Outdoor Foundation and National Park Trust will host students in examining the Declaration of Independence from the view of its author Thomas Jefferson. The trip includes a visit to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial and the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site.

October 15: In Pawling, NY, the National Parks Conservation Association and Appalachian Trail Conservancy are co-hosting the Harlem Valley Appalachian Trail Day, featuring guided hikes and educational activities for kids and families.

October 18: In Washington DC, REI, Outdoor Foundation, National Park Trust will help students become modern day explorers as they discover the biologically diverse area around the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. Using tools of the past, along with modern day technology, participants will follow in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark as they inventory cultural and natural resources.

November 2: In Washington DC, REI, Outdoor Foundation, National Park Trust and Wilderness Inquiry will take students canoeing on the Anacostia River. Additionally, rangers representing Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, Frederick Douglas House, and Anacostia Park will teach students local history, ecology, and architecture on land.

November 5: In Mojave National Preserve, National Parks Conservation Association and the Mojave National Preserve Conservancy are co-hosting a star-gazing overnight camping experience for students from Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

November 9-10: National Parks Conservation Association and Wilderness Inquiry will connect hundreds of local students from Petersburg, Virginia, with the Lower Appomattox River.

Date TBD: S.O.S. Outreach provides Colorado fourth graders with a chance to experience the Colorado National Monument through a four day overnight excursion. This year they will host their 22nd annual trip.

A few additional resources from OAK members to support Every Kid in a Park programming:

  • The Outdoor Foundation and Outdoor Industry Association launched Parks4Kids to provide micro grants to teachers, schools and nonprofits to connect our next generation with our nation’s parks and public lands. The campaign’s online platform connects individuals specific school to park experience projects.
  • Transforming Youth Outdoors is providing outdoor educators and teachers with a comprehensive set of tools and resources to support classroom and outdoor education and to provide the tools needed to get fourth graders onto our federal lands and waters.

In addition to our fourth grader events, members of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids host programs and activities for kids of all ages. Visit our website to learn more.

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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 more than eighty businesses and organizations, led by a steering committee which includes representatives from the Alliance for Childhood, American Heart Association, Children & Nature Network, Latino Outdoors, National Recreation and Park Association, National Wildlife Federation, NatureBridge, The North Face, Public Lands Service Coalition (a program of The Corps Network), REI, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society and the YMCA of the USA to address the growing divide between children, youth and the natural world. For more information: www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org

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Photo Credit: National Park Service; OAK helps launch Every Kid in a Park in Washington, DC

A Heavy Heart in the Grand Canyon

guest post by Jackie Ostfeld, Sierra Club’s Nearby Nature Director and Co-Founding Chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids – originally appeared in Huffington Post

Carrying an extra twenty-one pounds of baby on your back as you climb out of the Grand Canyon during a hot day in July isn’t easy. At least, so I’ve heard. My partner did most of the heavy lifting. As we emerged from the canyon, the weight began to lift off of our tired legs. Unfortunately, that weight made a beeline for our hearts, which sank upon learning the ugly details of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling’s untimely deaths. It would be another day or so before the news would reach us of the tragic shooting by a lone gunman of several police officers in Dallas, who were on duty during a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest.

Our family trip to the Grand Canyon was bittersweet. As a new mom, of an adopted black son, the story of Philando Castile’s death hit me the hardest. He was shot and killed by a police officer in front of his girlfriend and her four year old daughter after being pulled over for “driving with a wide nose.” By now, you should have all heard this story and, unfortunately, countless others.

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It wasn’t very long ago that I was pulled over for speeding. We were on our way back from Shenandoah National Park where we had been celebrating Father’s Day. My son was sick and tired of being in the car and he was making his restlessness known. So I, a white woman with a notorious lead foot, picked up the pace. I was pulled over for reckless driving in the state of Virginia. The officer asked why I was speeding. I told him my son was crying and I just wanted to get home; I told him that I was sorry. He gave me a speeding ticket and let me know he wasn’t going to give me a reckless driving charge.

I’ve been pulled over for speeding more times than I care to admit. Never have I feared for my safety. Never have I wondered whether or not I should reach into my glove box for my insurance card, which I have always done without thinking twice. Never have I been asked to step out of my vehicle. Never did my parents give me “the talk” (at least not the driving while black talk). What if I hadn’t been white? Will my son’s experience be different as he matures from a sweet innocent baby into a beautiful black man in America?

When I started drafting this blog, my plan was to write about the Centennial of the National Park Service. Over the last 100 years, we’ve protected over 400 national parks, monuments and historic sites. Since my son was born just over a year ago, we’ve made it our mission to get out and see our country’s magnificent public lands. Last June, when my son was just two weeks old, we went to the Everglades; he slept through his first alligator sighting. In September, when his adoption was finalized, we went to Shenandoah for the first of what would be several trips to the park as a new family. We’ve gone on short hikes in Prince William Forest Park and Rock Creek National Park near our home in Washington, DC. And earlier this month, we went to the Grand Canyon to celebrate my partner’s birthday – he was born on the 4th of July.

I could write about the awesome geological formations of the canyon, or the two California condors soaring overhead as we entered the park, or the warm smell of pinyon pine needles baking in the hot sun, or how my sweet little boy is quickly becoming a fish – splashing and swimming every chance he gets. I could write about the threats to our beloved Grand Canyon from nearby uranium mining and the importance of expanding its protection for future generations.

But my heart is heavy with sadness and worry. It’s a mom’s job to worry, right? I am sad because our black and brown brothers and sisters have been let down by our system. I am sad because far too many white folks are standing on the sidelines, sitting out this fight, or worse yet dismissing the Black Lives Matter movement (the civil rights movement of our time) with statements like “All Lives Matter” which undermine the important call to start valuing black lives as much as we already value white lives.

I am worried because the love of my life is a little black boy who will have to face the harsh realities of systemic racism as he ages. I worry whether I will be able to teach him empathy and resilience; to prepare him to not just survive but to thrive in this world.He’ll face adversity for sure. I wonder if he will continue to feel welcome in the parks and public lands we’ve been introducing him to over this first year of his life – the places where I have been privileged to find solace, healing and even hope.

Just last month on the heels of the horrific shooting targeting the LGBTQ community in Orlando, President Obama took his family to Yosemite National Park. While there, he gave a speech honoring the Centennial of the National Park Service, and highlighting the White House’s Every Kid in a Park initiative to ensure all kids have opportunities to enjoy our public lands, waters and shores. After taking photos and shaking hands, President Obama and his family went for a hike. Just them. No cameras, no press, no special guests.

I can’t help but think after a really hard week, time in nature might have helped the President to reconnect with his family, and in the shadows of the ponderosa pines and granite cliffs, the President might have found a little solace, a little healing and even, a little hope.