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Kids, Meet Mother Nature

June 5, 2008

Olympia, WA - There's plenty of natural beauty in Washington beyond what you can Google on a computer - but can the state convince kids to take a closer look at it? The Parks Department hopes so, and is awarding $1.5 million in grants to help acquaint children with nature. The grants are part of the "No Child Left Inside" law passed by the 2007 legislature.

Administrator Frank Galloway says he didn't know if this first year of the program would attract a lot of interest, but that was before applications from 238 groups rolled in.

"The range of applications was so broad; it was from all over the state and, actually, outside of the state. But the committee didn't feel that it was our charge to grant funds outside of the state of Washington."

There are 25 programs that will receive funding in amounts from $5,000 to $200,000. Galloway says it would have taken almost $9 million to fund all the requests, and adds that it points to the need for learning that goes beyond traditional classroom settings by connecting kids to real-life applications of math, science, art, history and further school subjects.

Galloway, who is in charge of administering the new law, believes outdoor education is important if Washington want to continue being the "Evergreen State."

"Today, nobody really recognizes the difference between the forest and the trees unless they've actually been out there. By getting the kids out there, and teaching them to fall in love with the forest, that's providing the future stewards of our forests."

More information about the program, including the list of grant recipients, is available online at
www.parks.wa.gov/nochildleftinside.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA