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First Lady Katie O'Malley Celebrates Great American Backyard Campout

National Wildlife Federation, Maryland Park Service, local kids help highlight Maryland recreational opportunities

Annapolis, Md. (June 13, 2012) - First Lady Katie O’Malley kicked-off the 8th annual Great American Backyard Campout this afternoon by pitching a tent with a group of local kids on the lawn of Government House in Annapolis. National Wildlife Federation Naturalist David Mizejewski and a live owl from the Maryland Park Service Scales and Tales program joined the group to bring attention to the June 23 event, which encourages families and children nationwide to experience camping outdoors.

“Camping is not only a fun outdoor activity – it also teaches kids about the importance, beauty and need to protect our natural resources,” said First Lady Katie O’Malley. “Spending time outdoors is the best way for people of all ages to develop a connection to nature and enhance their respect for our natural environment.”

To ensure all Maryland young people have the opportunity to connect with nature and grow to become informed and responsible stewards, Governor Martin O’Malley established the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature in 2008. Under this initiative, which is now used as a national model, an ambitious set of actions focus on improving connections with nature during the school day as well as outside of school and in communities. Camp under the stars is one of 10 outdoor activities included in the Maryland Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights, introduced by Governor O’Malley in 2009.

“I believe that one of the greatest threats to our precious wildlife and natural resources is a generation of children entirely disconnected from nature,” said Tony Caligiuri, mid-Atlantic regional executive director for the National Wildlife Federation. “The Great American Backyard Campout provides an easy, inexpensive way for families to have fun, while rediscovering and learning about the great outdoors.”

The Maryland Park Service will also host special events on June 23 and 24 at Dan’s Mountain, Elk Neck, Point Lookout, Rocky Gap and Sandy Point State Parks and Fair Hill NRMA. Activities include campfires, animal programs, crafts, and guided canoeing and hiking.

“June is Great Outdoors Month and one of the best times of year to enjoy our natural world,” said DNR Secretary John Griffin. “Whether spending a day at one of our beautiful State Parks, taking a dip in your local watering hole, or catching fishing off of a pier, our State’s outdoor recreational opportunities are second to none.”

As part of Great Outdoors Month, the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature has proclaimed June 9 to 23 Celebrate Maryland Outdoors Days. There are variety of nature-inspired events and activities planned throughout the State during these two weeks, and throughout the year.

The National Wildlife Federation’s annual Great American Backyard Campout invites families to participate by registering at BackyardCampout.org. The site provides camping activity ideas including campfire recipes, nocturnal wildlife guides, campfire songs and games, nature activities and much more.

As America's largest conservation organization, National Wildlife Federation works with more than 4 million members, partners and supporters in communities across the country to inspire Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future. Learn more at www.nwf.org.


   June 13, 2012

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell
jdavidsburg@dnr.state.md.us

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages nearly one-half million 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 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. 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