Secretaries Duncan and Salazar Team Up for Outdoor STEM Education on Public Lands

Earlier this month I had the honor of participating in the White House Conference on Conservation, where leaders from all 50 states convened for an update on and discussion about the Obama Administration’s America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) initiative. AGO is an effort to develop a forward-looking conservation and recreation agenda in America, one that is built by local communities and relevant to all Americans.

A major focus of the AGO report, released in February 2011, was the importance of reconnecting kids with nature, for their health and wellbeing and for the future of conservation.

Right before this conference, I was thrilled to see that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Education Secretary Arne Duncan signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work in a more intentional and collaborative fashion toward common goals. According to the press release, the agreement will enable “the Department of the Interior and the Department of Education to work together in new and more effective ways to connect young Americans to the outdoors, improve environmental literacy, support experiential learning outside the classroom, and form partnerships at the local level to learn from and conserve public lands.”

This is a good sign from the Administration about its commitment to making sure Americans are clued in to the world around them, especially after canceling funding for environmental education programs at NOAA and EPA last month.

Under the agreement, Interior may offer both professional development opportunities for teachers and other educators, including workshops, in-depth subject-matter seminars, and summer employment opportunities. The goals include improving teaching skills and developing deeper levels of subject-matter expertise, with a special emphasis on those who work in, or will work in, Title I, rural, and other high-need schools.


If you’d like to learn more about America’s Great Outdoors and connecting kids with nature, download the full America’s Great Outdoors report or TAKE ACTION to reconnect kids with nature by supporting the Healthy Kids Outdoors Act.