Signs New Executive Order Promoting Outdoor Learning For Maryland Youth
ANNAPOLIS, MD - Governor Larry Hogan is renewing Maryland’s commitment to environmental education to ensure that every child in Maryland has the opportunity to learn about their local environment, develop a connection with nature, and have a better sense of place in their natural surroundings. The governor today signed Executive Order 01.01.2017.12, establishing Project Green Classrooms, an initiative to promote outdoor experiential activities and environmental education through Maryland’s schools, communities and public lands.
“As we work together to protect the Chesapeake Bay we also must find new, innovative ways to engage our youth. Project Green Classrooms will continue Maryland’s national leadership in educating and inspiring the next generation of environmental stewards,” said Governor Hogan. “It will help shine a spotlight on the important role that science and technology will play in finding future innovative solutions to environmental challenges, and it will give young Marylanders insight into potential new career paths.”
The executive order establishes a panel of experts who will coordinate efforts to provide expanded opportunities for young Marylanders to spend more time outdoors for discovery, healthy play, and learning. The group will serve as an advisory body, making recommendations in support of environmental education programs in schools and greater public access to the outdoors. The new initiative is an expansion and extension of a previous state program.
“This exciting initiative fits well into our mission to enhance public access to all to our state’s natural beauty and bounty,” said Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton, co-chair of the new initiative. “At the same time, we will help foster knowledge, interest, and understanding among our young people to better sustain and value those resources.”
Project Green Classrooms will facilitate field-based environmental study to help teachers utilize our state lands and parks for outdoor experiences and learning laboratories, increase the number of certified Maryland Green Schools, and provide a new emphasis on career development, exploration, and training so students are prepared for 21st century “green” careers and jobs.
“When education connects the great outdoors to classroom instruction, student learning increases exponentially," said Dr. Karen Salmon, State Superintendent of Schools, co-chair of the initiative. "Our state has been a national leader in environmental education, and this initiative expands on this critical work."
The governor’s Executive Order specifies updated outcomes toward achieving environmental literacy and connecting children and families to nature, with added emphasis on recommending actions that will align the appropriate resources and capabilities to most effectively impact the state’s youth. This includes expanding nonprofits’ and state agencies’ involvement and participation in the partnership to increase capacity, effectiveness, and efficiency.