Get ‘Em Outside! Shaping Youth Heads for The Hills

May 17, 2016 Between this post about children’s sensory atrophy and the positive practices of Vitamin N…nature, I feel compelled to send another shoutout on Twitter to “Get ‘Em Outside!” (video embedded below)

Kids faces beam with energy and fun making informal learning a ‘vitamin E’ for environment+ education…all in show-n-tell hands-on form. The excitement is contagious!

April 18, 2013 April’s Let’s G.O. (Get Outside) movement via Children and Nature Network just landed on the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” blog citing a few basics to blend Earth Day and outdoor play into fresh air fun.

I’ll be writing a post about our Let’s GO participation plans long before I ‘go dark’ to honor our partnership with Screen Free Week, meanwhile, here are 40 eco-friendly links worth ‘recycling’ to friends about green media and more outdoor play posts at the end which should help get the ideas churning for the Let’s GO Outdoor Faces Photo Gala too. See you on the trails!

Original Post: Shaping Youth is one of over 610 (as of today) member organizations of the “No Child Left INSIDE coalition representing millions who believe young people should receive a strong education about their natural world.

To preclude ‘Nature Deficit Disorder,’ yours truly (who vehemently believes in ‘action’ over ‘words’) will once again be “going off the grid” (no electricity) to our rustic solar/propane cabin in the Rocky Mountains shortly for a family renewal respite, and media-free teen texting hiatus to remind my dear one there’s life past those fast-thumbing friendships!

Though our media family prefers ‘outside to inside’ the majority of the time, I still believe it takes on a different context being ‘media free’ and untethered…as ‘mom unplugged’ says at the Unplug Your Kids blog.

Which reminds me, I’m now also writing for Eco Child’s Play in the fabulous Green Options media network too, and already seem to have sparked a wee bit of controversy over there with this public health interview, as part of a series they’re doing this week…

For an ‘up close and personal’ piece about my own Keira Knightley AA body image confessions, here’s my debut article on ECP with part two soon to follow)

Meanwhile, at left, is a ‘conceptual preview’ sketch of a book that’s now hot off the press and we’ll be featuring in our back to school picks from Living Folklore and Giggle Bubble Media, which ‘makes the connection’ quite well! (NCLI should snag it as their official poster!)

Shaping Youth and other media-loving child advocacy orgs (digital divas and eco-moms are not a mutually exclusive concept!) are working to pass the NCLI Act in Congress along with business, eco, educational, public health, outdoor recreation and conservation groups authorizing major new funding for states to provide high-quality, environmental instruction.

With that in mind…Get ‘Em Outside!

This brief “Get ‘Em Outside” NCLI video captures the ecoliteracy coalition goals for kids as no words could convey as fast! Just look at the kids’ smiles, curiosity, sense of wonder and engagement, and compare it to the complaints we hear as parents (from both kids and teachers!) tired of cramming ‘data’ into minds in rote ‘test-driven/NCLB’ mode!

Back soon with many, many stories to share and Shaping Youth’s ‘positive picks’ (interviews with the founders of Respect Rx, Dizzywood, Zookazoo, Girl Mogul, and more…) See you shortly!

Related posts on Environmental Appreciation/Informal Learning and Kids:

Inspire Kids With Green Media: Kid Vid & Games Galore (Shaping Youth)

Encourage Congress to Get Kids Outside: NWF

No Child Left Inside Environmental Education Wiki Page

Habbo Virtual World Greenpeace Survey; Teens Concerns On Global Warming

State of Our Nation’s Youth Report/Teen Eco Concerns (Horatio Alger Assoc)

USAToday: Environmental Education Gets A Green Light

The Case for Make Believe: Part Two (Defending pretending; need for prominent play)

The Case for Make Believe: Part One (Eco-Twister, Inter-connectedness)

Green Building/Eco-Friendly Schools Help Cut Costs (USAToday)

Going Green Makes Gains (USAToday)



  1. p.s. Made it in to Colorado, and have temporary wi-fi before going off the grid up the mtn…

    Wanted to leave this link from EarthJustice on the blog to take action re: water quality/pollution and mountaintop removal mining…add your voice?! Almost 6000 and counting…

  2. Hi Amy,
    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and commenting today. Hurray for going off-grid and outdoors! My husband’s family has a cabin in the Rocky Mountains (Wyoming side!) and we love it up there.

    Glad to know you’re addressing mountain top removal, too. Big Issue here in Tennessee at the moment…

  3. Thanks, Elizabeth…did you see the Google Earth map on the West Virginia mountain top removal? eesh…Talk about using the power of media to shift policy!!!

    Poignant media use:

  4. This just in from the NCLI team, getting ready for the vote in Sept.

    “Vote “Yes” on the No Child Left Inside Act
    (H.R. 3036, H.Rpt. 110-754)

    Purpose: The purpose of H.R. 3036, the No Child Left Inside (NCLI) Act of 2008, is to support local and statewide efforts to expand and enhance environmental education and to provide enhanced professional development opportunities in environmental education.

    Sponsors: Congressman John Sarbanes (Md.) and 64 co-sponsors (see reverse).

    Committee Action: On 6/18/08, the House Committee on Education and Labor favorably reported H.R.3036 by a 37-8 vote, supported by Chairman George Miller (D-CA) and Ranking Member Buck McKeon (R-CA).

    Supporting Organizations: The rapidly growing No Child Left Inside Coalition is comprised of more than 600 environmental, educational, business, health care and other organizations from 50 states, representing more than 40 million people.

    Legislative Content:

    · Establishes a new “National Capacity Environmental Education Grant Program” funded at “such sums as may be necessary for fiscal year 2009” through the U.S. Department of Education. Grants may go to nonprofit organizations, state educational agencies, local educational agencies or institutions of higher education that have demonstrated expertise to help the field of environmental education become more effective and widely practiced;

    · Makes capacity building grants to state educational agencies contingent upon the creation of a peer-reviewed state environmental literacy plan while allowing states to access funding to develop and/or peer-review the plan;

    · Amends and broadens the successful Environmental Education and Training Program to provide professional development and training for teachers to incorporate environmental education activities as part of school curriculum; and

    · Extends the full National Environmental Education Act (20 U.S.C. 5501, P.L.101-619) authorization, including Environmental Education and Training, at $14 million through fiscal year 2009.

    Need for Environmental Education:

    · Environmental education has a measurably positive impact on student achievement in science, reading, math and social studies as well as increased motivation, critical thinking and interest in science and math as future career pathways.

    · Environmental education “in the field” as part of the regular school curriculum gets kids outside contributing to healthy lifestyles through outdoor recreation, exercise, play and experience in the natural world that is critical to helping prevent obesity and address other related health problems.

    · Environmental education provides critical tools for a 21st Century workforce by providing students with the skills to understand complex environmental issues so they may make informed decisions in their own lives and find solutions for real world challenges facing us as a nation. Business leaders also increasingly believe that an environmentally literate workforce is critical to their long-term success. Environmental education helps prepare students for real world challenges.

    · Hands-on environmental education is a solution to the growing trend of “nature deficit disorder” exemplified by the fact that today’s children spend half as much time outside as kids did just 20 years ago and, on average, spend six and a half hours every day plugged into electronic media.

    Contact: Charlie Stek, Policy Director, NCLI Coalition,, 301-575-7957
    Vote “Yes” on the No Child Left Inside Act
    (H.R. 3036, H.Rpt. 110-754)
    Full Co-Sponsor List:

    Rep Allen, Thomas H. [ME-1] – 10/22/2007
    Rep Altmire, Jason [PA-4] – 4/23/2008
    Rep Andrews, Robert E. [NJ-1] – 6/11/2008
    Rep Baldwin, Tammy [WI-2] – 10/22/2007
    Rep Berman, Howard L. [CA-28] – 11/7/2007
    Rep Bishop, Timothy H. [NY-1] – 6/11/2008
    Rep Blumenauer, Earl [OR-3] – 4/30/2008
    Rep Bordallo, Madeleine Z. [GU] – 12/13/2007
    Rep Brady, Robert A. [PA-1] – 6/17/2008
    Rep Braley, Bruce L. [IA-1] – 10/3/2007
    Rep Capps, Lois [CA-23] – 4/16/2008
    Rep Carnahan, Russ [MO-3] – 6/17/2008
    Rep Clarke, Yvette D. [NY-11] – 9/18/2007
    Rep Clay, Wm. Lacy [MO-1] – 10/22/2007
    Rep Conyers, John, Jr. [MI-14] – 7/8/2008
    Rep Courtney, Joe [CT-2] – 6/11/2008
    Rep Cummings, Elijah E. [MD-7] – 9/18/2007
    Rep Davis, Susan A. [CA-53] – 9/18/2007
    Rep DeGette, Diana [CO-1] – 1/15/2008
    Rep Delahunt, William D. [MA-10] – 3/13/2008
    Rep Eshoo, Anna G. [CA-14] – 11/7/2007
    Rep Etheridge, Bob [NC-2] – 2/25/2008
    Rep Farr, Sam [CA-17] – 9/24/2007
    Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] – 10/3/2007
    Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [AZ-7] – 9/18/2007
    Rep Hare, Phil [IL-17] – 9/18/2007
    Rep Hinchey, Maurice D. [NY-22] – 12/19/2007
    Rep Hinojosa, Ruben [TX-15] – 6/11/2008
    Rep Hirono, Mazie K. [HI-2] – 11/7/2007
    Rep Hodes, Paul W. [NH-2] – 5/6/2008
    Rep Holt, Rush D. [NJ-12] – 6/11/2008
    Rep Honda, Michael M. [CA-15] – 10/3/2007
    Rep Kildee, Dale E. [MI-5] – 6/11/2008
    Rep Kind, Ron [WI-3] – 9/18/2007
    Rep Lee, Barbara [CA-9] – 3/12/2008
    Rep Lewis, John [GA-5] – 10/22/2007
    Rep LoBiondo, Frank A. [NJ-2] – 9/18/2007
    Rep Loebsack, David [IA-2] – 6/17/2008
    Rep Lofgren, Zoe [CA-16] – 12/4/2007
    Rep Marshall, Jim [GA-8] – 4/23/2008
    Rep Matsui, Doris O. [CA-5] – 6/11/2008
    Rep McGovern, James P. [MA-3] – 9/18/2007
    Rep McNerney, Jerry [CA-11] – 11/1/2007
    Rep Meeks, Gregory W. [NY-6] – 7/9/2008
    Rep Moran, James P. [VA-8] – 10/30/2007
    Rep Olver, John W. [MA-1] – 4/10/2008
    Rep Payne, Donald M. [NJ-10] – 9/18/2007
    Rep Perlmutter, Ed [CO-7] – 9/18/2007
    Rep Reyes, Silvestre [TX-16] – 12/13/2007
    Rep Rothman, Steven R. [NJ-9] – 10/22/2007
    Rep Ruppersberger, C. A. Dutch [MD-2] – 4/17/2008
    Rep Sanchez, Linda T. [CA-39] – 6/11/2008
    Rep Saxton, Jim [NJ-3] – 9/18/2007
    Rep Scott, Robert C. “Bobby” [VA-3] – 10/30/2007
    Rep Sestak, Joe [PA-7] – 11/7/2007
    Rep Shea-Porter, Carol [NH-1] – 9/18/2007
    Rep Sires, Albio [NJ-13] – 9/18/2007
    Rep Stark, Fortney Pete [CA-13] – 11/7/2007
    Rep Tierney, John F. [MA-6] – 6/11/2008
    Rep Van Hollen, Chris [MD-8] – 9/18/2007
    Rep Woolsey, Lynn C. [CA-6] – 9/18/2007
    Rep Wu, David [OR-1] – 9/18/2007
    Rep Wynn, Albert Russell [MD-4] – 11/13/2007
    Rep Yarmuth, John A. [KY-3] – 6/11/2008″

  5. And for parents who would like to take action in their own papers and editorial op-ed communities, here’s a template to use:

    “To the Editor:

    Like other parents, I want to find ways to get kids to turn off their electronic devices and get outside to explore and learn about their natural world. So I was pleased to learn recently that the U.S. House of Representatives will soon vote on the No Child Left Inside Act.

    This legislation, which passed the House Education and Labor Committee with bipartisan support, would get kids outside during the school day by providing new funding for environmental education. The funds would ensure that teachers are trained in providing high-quality, engaging lessons and would expand environmental learning opportunities here in [STATE] and around the country.

    As kids become disconnected from nature, the ramifications are profound — dramatic increases in childhood obesity, diabetes and attention deficit disorder. We have to re-connect young people to their natural world.

    This legislation is also a strong response to the many complicated environmental challenges we face, including global climate change and an increase in threats to our air and water supplies. We have to make sure our children understand these challenges and are well-prepared to overcome them in the years ahead.

    The No Child Left Inside Act should be a priority for all parents. I urge Rep. X to support this important piece of legislation.”

  6. Moreover, here’s the take action note from NCLI to give kids and parents the “What can we do?” next steps…

    “Help Spread the Word about NCLI During the August Recess

    The No Child Left Inside Act is likely heading to a vote in the House of Representatives in September. With the House now in recess, we have a great opportunity for members of the NCLI Coalition to spread the word about the need for high-quality environmental education — directly to House members and the public.

    There are several ways to do this:

    1. Go visit your member during the August recess. Representatives are back in their home districts through August. You and others from your organization can ask for a meeting with your representative to tell them about the importance of the NCLI Act. If you can’t get in to see a member, ask to visit with a staff member involved with environmental or education issues. We are including in this email a one-page summary of the legislation to help you during a meeting with a member or staffer. (If your member is already listed as an NCLI supporter, take the time to offer your thanks.)

    2. Are you having an event in August related to the environment? If so, we urge you to invite your member of the House of Representatives and use the opportunity to speak to them about the Coalition and the passage of H.R. 3036. These visits are often quite appealing to members of Congress. In addition, we can help you get the word out to local media about the event.

    3. In this email we are including a sample letter to the editor and a template OpEd article discussing the value of the NCLI Act and urging members of Congress to support it. Your organization can take these, customize them to fit your area and submit them to local newspapers. Getting media attention on our legislation is critical to generating congressional support. If you need help customizing the media materials or submitting them, we can help.

    Our support for getting kids outside to learn through high-quality environmental education is making an enormous difference in Washington, D.C. Now is the time to underscore that support, while members of the House are back home.

    Thanks for all you do for environmental education. And please let us know if we can help you in any of these activities — and let us know about any contacts you have with congressional offices so we can keep track of our grassroots efforts.”

  7. Once we get every child OUTSIDE…then we can work on the adults :-)! Thanks for the posting Amy.

  8. I find the “real world learning” movement fascinating, and thank you Amy for bringing my attention to NCLI. Part of the movement speaks to me, as I grew up in Colorado and was raised to appreciate nature and spent a lot of time hiking, skiing, and being outside. However, some of the rhetoric of this movement includes an anti-media tone, which I believe doesn’t appeal to most parents and children nor does anything to advocate media literacy in the home. It also does not acknowledge positive benefits of media consumption. Although being outside is a necessary (but increasingly lacking) part of childhood, I want to emphasize a few things: the connection between childhood leisure time and a child’s living location, along with family income level. In low-income neighborhoods in my city, it is difficult–and dangerous–for kids to just “go outside and play” so more time is spent indoors with media. And even in higher income (and safer) suburbs, parents’ fear of their children’s welfare has increased, so this keeps kids inside more (Henry Jenkins has written on how childhood and leisure time has changed to include more time spent inside the home). So–along with advocating real world play and learning–parents need to get involved with their children’s media consumption in the home and be educated in practicing media literacy inquiry skills in their everyday lives with their children.

  9. Hi Kelly…I know what you mean…

    I’m a “Not Quite Crunchy Parent” (as my gal pal MC Milker on Eco Childs’ Play calls herself) and am actually VERY involved in ‘bridging’ the two spheres…

    You might like these two posts for example, which are heavy on instilling nature ONLINE in order to take what’s learned OFFLINE.

    Inspire Kids With Green Media: Kid-Vid & Games Galore

    New Media Worldometers Help Data Click With Kids

    And of course, Dizzywood’s ‘plant 15,000 trees virtually to benefit the Arbor Day Foundation’s planting of 15,000 REAL life trees! This is where I really think informal learning can make huge headway…(and already has)!!

    There are SOOOOOOOO many cool nature sites and green teen hubs and even ‘green virtual worlds’ like (and Green TV, and Treehugger, Current, Eco Child’s Play, Green Options Network, etc. etc.) that eco education is a ‘given’ without too much trial and error…

    In fact, you’ve given me an idea for an ‘online to offline’ type of post on how to use digital media to get kids outdoors! 🙂 Thanks!! Best, Amy

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