Governor O'Malley Releases Children in Nature Action Plan

Participates in Educational Exhibits, Hayride with Laurel students

Annapolis, MD (October 26, 2009) - Governor Martin O’Malley today released Maryland’s Children in Nature Action Plan for 2010, which outlines measures the State is currently undertaking to advance environmental literacy and a connection with nature among Maryland’s young people. The Governor made the announcement during Capital for a Day in Laurel, at an outing with area school children that included live Scales and Tales and horseshoe crab exhibits and a hayride through Laurel Riverfront Park.

“Last year we brought together educators and outdoor professionals to help ensure our kids have the opportunity to both learn about their environment and to get outside and connect with their natural world -- getting their feet wet and their hands dirty,” said Governor O’Malley. “Today, we celebrate the release of our 2010 action plan, which outlines steps we are now taking in direct response to the report and recommendations of the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature.”

For the past several months, staff from the Maryland Departments of Natural Resources and the Maryland State Department of Education have worked with Partnership members, other State agencies and non-governmental organizations to develop this first phase action plan. Highlights of the plan include commitments to:

  • Identify potential acquisitions -- using Program Open Space funding -- that will connect children and families to nature, benefit underserved communities, and link Marylanders to schools, trails, and parks.
  • Double Civic Justice Corps (CJC) participation next summer to 500 members; the CJC is a summer work program for at-risk youth conducted by the Maryland Park Service.
  • Pursue the necessary processes to present a recommendation to the State Board of Education that environmental literacy be considered as a graduation requirement utilizing existing courses.
  • Identify up to $2.9 million in competitive grant funding from the Chesapeake Bay Trust to support both K-12 environmental education as well as hands-on environmental projects that support the objectives of the plan.

The Partnership’s full report lays out a comprehensive blueprint that will guide this effort long into the future – and we are very grateful for their continued dedication to this project,” said DNR Secretary John Griffin. “This action plan will allow us to begin seeing some results almost immediately, as we continue to develop new programming for the longer term.”

Governor O’Malley established the Partnership by Executive Order in April 2008, tasking its members with creating an environmental literacy plan for Maryland students, increasing opportunities for structured outdoor learning on state parks and conservation lands, and enhancing school and community natural areas to enable more play and learning outdoors.

“We are also pleased to announce that the Maryland Environmental Literacy Standards are now posted on the web for local school systems to use, as we proceed with a national expert review of the standards and prepare to present them to the State Board of Education for adoption,” said State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick.

The 21-member Partnership, which is co-chaired by Dr. Grasmick and Secretary Griffin, brought together more than 80 professionals to develop the report and recommendations presented to Governor O’Malley in the spring.

“Cultivating the next generation of environmental stewards is at the heart of the Trust’s mission and we are honored to be a member of the Children in Nature Partnership. Grant programs supported by the Treasure the Chesapeake License Plate provide opportunities for schools and communities to realize the ambitious visions laid out in the plan,” said Allen Hance, Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

“I want to thank Secretary Griffin, Dr. Grasmick and all the Partnership members for their leadership on this effort, which will forever change the lives of Maryland’s children and the future of our planet,” added the Governor.

Under this initiative, Governor O’Malley created the Maryland Civic Justice Corps, a summer job and environmental education program that employs at risk youth in Maryland State Parks, which recently completed its second successful summer of programming. This spring, Governor O’Malley introduced the Maryland Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights, which served as the centerpiece for the 2009 Maryland Bay Game. During the 2009 legislative session, the O’Malley-Brown Administration secured record funding for Maryland’s #1 ranked public schools for the third consecutive year, investing more than $5.5 billion this year in our schools.

View the action plan and other Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature materials at www.dnr.maryland.gov/cin


   October 26, 2009

Contact: Darlene Pisani
410-260-8004 office I 410-507-7524 cell
dpisani@dnr.state.md.us

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 461,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries, and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic, and cultural resources attract 12 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov