Outdoor Working Group
Outdoor engagement presents a unique opportunity to serve diverse constituencies because it provides mental and physical health benefits, supports economic development, and connects communities. However, these benefits are not distributed equitably nor available for all communities.
NCEL established an Outdoor Working Group in 2020 to provide a more direct connection between lawmakers from multiple states pursuing outdoor engagement policy ideas and solutions. More than 20 legislators from 16 states have participated in the working group to date, with regular meetings and resource sharing which has led directly to new learning and policy opportunities across the country.
- In 2021, Alaska Rep. Tarr worked on an equity resolution and hopes to create a full program within a few years. New Mexico Rep. Rubio, sponsor of the New Mexico Equity Fund, testified on behalf of the resolution.
- Georgia Sen. Rahman learned about efforts to expand outdoor access from the group and championed a bipartisan resolution to create an Outdoor Learning Study Committee in 2021. In 2022, he introduced a bill to establish an outdoor learning pilot program as well as a bill to create an Office of the Outdoors in Georgia.
- New Hampshire Sen. David Watters expanded the state’s education criteria to include new provisions around environmental education skills, environmental science, and outdoor recreation after learning about efforts from the working group and being connected with environmental education leaders in his state.
- Working group members decided to join together on National Get Outdoors Day in 2021 for a virtual video and social media push facilitated by NCEL.