Policy Update

Minnesota establishes grant program for youth outdoor engagement

Region

Midwest

NCEL Point of Contact

Dylan McDowell
Deputy Director

Contact

Minnesota has become the latest state to support outdoor experiences with a focus on disadvantaged youth. A new “No Child Left Inside” grant program, sponsored by Representative Jamie Becker-Finn and Senator Hawj (HF133/SF868), will provide funding to public entities or nonprofit organizations that connect students with nature.

The language and a $500k appropriation were included in the Omnibus Environment and Natural Resources Finance Bill. As part of the end-of-session compromise, an additional $500k in grants will also support firearm safety and hunting curriculum through the program, with another $200k dedicated for high school fishing leagues and angling curriculum. Some of the key priorities for grant awards include programs that:

  • Provide students with opportunities to directly experience and understand nature and the natural world.
  • Use a research-based, effective environmental, ecological, agricultural, or other natural-resource-based educational curriculum.
  • Serve children with limited opportunities to participate in natural-resource-based outdoor activities.

Washington state enacted the first No Child Left Inside program in 2007 (HB 1677) with reauthorization in 2015. From 2015-2019, Washington’s program engaged more than 30,000 children with outdoor programming. California (AB 209), Oregon (SB 589), and Nevada (AB331) are considering similar legislation in 2019.

The full omnibus language is available here.

This year, at least seven starts are considering similar legislation to help get people outside. To learn more about these bills and
outdoor recreation issues visit ncel.net/outdoor-recreation.