$1 Million Commitment By Feds To Get Kids Outdoors

Reconnecting children with the Great Outdoors has become an important goal for educators and nature lovers alike.

The Obamas have also jumped on board: President Obama announced his America’s Great Outdoors program last year, and First Lady Michelle Obama has thrown herself into her Let’s Move initiative. America’s Great Outdoors seeks to engage the public to work together to conserve and restore our lands and to connect to the outdoors. Let’s Move! focuses on solving the problem of childhood obesity, a segment of which aims to improve physical and mental health through outdoor activities.

And Now A New Initiative!

Doing his part to promote these goals, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on March 2 announced the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) commitment to get kids outdoors through $1 million in cost-share funding from the U.S. Forest Service to enhance children’s programs in 18 states.

Vilsack made his announcement at the Interior Department during a White House conference, Growing America’s Outdoor Heritage and Economy, which emphasized the link between conservation and strong local economies through tourism, outdoor recreation, and healthy lands, waters and wildlife.

Today’s Children Are Tomorrow’s Stewards Of The Land

From USDA:

“These programs provide an essential connection to our great outdoors, which we hope can be a key part of growing up for children from all walks of life,” said Vilsack. “We need kids to experience the wonders of the great outdoors and take ownership of the future of natural resources. Today’s children are tomorrow’s stewards of the land.”

It’s great to hear a federal official pronounce these words, and even better to see him put some funds behind his words.

The money will be distributed to the agency’s More Kids in the Woods and Children’s Forests programs.

From USDA:

“These grants strengthen our bonds with communities with a bottom line goal of getting kids to explore and appreciate America’s great outdoors,” said US Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “There are few things more gratifying for me than seeing our youth gain an appreciation for the amazing landscapes we have in this country.”

More Kids in the Woods projects include activities and programs designed to spark curiosity about nature and promote learning.

Children’s Forests differ in that they are centered around developed outdoor spaces on national or state forests, in urban parks or at schools. The core mission of a Children’s Forest is to get young people to take a leadership role in forest management by giving them a voice in caring for the land.

Where The 2012 More Kids In The Woods Grants Are Going:

* More Kids in the Central Alabama Woods, National Forests in Alabama
* Yakutat Future Scientists, Tongass National Forest, Alaska
* Angoon Outdoor Skills Initiative, Tongass National Forest, Alaska
* Yellow Belly Ponderosa Performance Outreach, Kaibab National Forest, Arizona
* Big Bear Discovery Center’s Nature Explore Classroom, San Bernardino National Forest, California
* A Century of Leaders: Invoking the Vision of Teddy Roosevelt, Sequoia National Forest, California
* Stormwater Habitat Education Development, or WaterSHED, Rocky Mountain Research Station and Arapaho-Roosevelt   National Forest, Colorado
* Boise Youth Engagement in Nature, Boise National Forest, Idaho
* Mountains to Meadows: The Boulder Creek Study, Payette National Forest, Idaho
* Our LAND – Learn, Admire, Nurture, Dream, Forest Service Regional Office and the Huron-Manistee and Hiawatha National Forests, Michigan
* Pioneering Discoveries: A Natural and Cultural Resources Field Camp for Tribal High School Students, Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, Montana
* Discovering Flathead’s Feathered Friends, Enhancing Schoolyard and National Forest Habitat, Flathead National Forest, Montana
* Kids in the Headwaters, Lolo National Forest, Montana
* Get Outdoors With Conservation, Climate & Careers!, Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands, Nebraska
* Children’s Water Festival Enhancement Project, Gila National Forest, New Mexico
* Connecting Kids to the River Forest, Santa Fe National Forest, New Mexico
* Stewardship in the Woods on 3 Forests, Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, Oregon
* Immersion in Nature, Willamette National Forest, Oregon
* Partners in Education, Northern Research Station, Pennsylvania
* Sewee Earth Stewards, Francis Marion National Forest, South Carolina
* More Kids in the Pineywoods, Angelina-Sabine National Forest, Texas
* The EVOLVE Project, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Utah
* National Fishing in Schools Program, Shoshone National Forest, Wyoming

Lucky kids who get to participate in these programs!

Related Stories

American Kids Need To Be Out There

Experiencing ‘America’s Great Outdoors’

Does Every Child Have The Right To Spend Time In Nature?

Photo Credit: TogetherGreen


Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe5 years ago

We have a nature center park right in the middle of our city. It is also connected to a picnic area, some baseball diamonds, a playground, and a swimming pool. It gets a lot of use by young and old.

Charli S.
Charlotte S6 years ago

Why do we need the government to use money in order for kids to be outdoors? Why not have 2 PE periods during the school day. Extend the day for 2 hours to give enough time for these PE periods. I spent my entire childhood out doors. No TV allowed at all during daylight hours.

eusebio vestias
eusebio vestias6 years ago

Eu também queria a minha Europa em grandes aventuras como envolver as crianças e o público da Europa em trabalhar e restaurar as nossas terras e conservar a natureza para podermos estar conectado ao ar livre

Nancy L.
Nancy L6 years ago

Wow, the new budget is planning to spend more than we'll take in in taxes. And now they want to spend money to promote kids going outside to play??!! Really?? The govt doesn't HAVE the money for this. People need to grow up and become responsible for their own children. We don't need yet another govt. program for something this basic.

Hellen H.
Hellen Hoffman6 years ago

A million dollars??? Seriously??? Wow! How generous....best do it now kids while there is something left....Vilsack is busy allowing mining, ATV's, logging, driling, fracking and the list goes on. Not to mention the serious intent of so many states to get ready of wolves and other endangered species. And, Evan M, you are wrong...hunting does take place on federal lands....wild horses and the relentless attack to rid the entire US of the wolf population....hunting, you "betcha" from planes, blinds, poisoning dens, killing females so their young starve and the latest...using other "live" bait to bring wolves out..so now we not only have the life of the wolf on our bloody hands, but the "bait" as well. Don't you just love the outdoors? If kids got to see the "real" outdoors, maybe they, too, would be appalled at how it is managed.

William K.
William K6 years ago

Great initiatives.

Barton D.
Barton Dixon6 years ago

Getting kids involved in the outdoors is lately code by hunting interests, whose numbers are falling, for getting kids indoctrinated into killing animals for fun. Be Aware.

Joe R.
Joe R6 years ago

It's a shame that our society has lost its important connection to nature and the great outdoors.

Vicky Pitchford
Vicky P6 years ago


Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons6 years ago

When i was growing up on a family dairy farm me and my brothers would stay out of doors playing practically all day on nice days. Now they would rather play with their Ipods.