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RELEASE: Representative Sarbanes Honored at Great Outdoors America Week Award given for connecting kids with the outdoors and working to protect America’s green spaces


Jackie Ostfeld, Sierra Club, 202-821-8877, Jackie.ostfeld@sierraclub.org

Kristina Ortez de Jones, Sierra Club, 505-206-9629 Kristina.ortez@sierraclub.org 


WASHINGTON, DC (June 28, 2012) – Representative John Sarbanes (MD-3) was honored as one of America’s Great Outdoors Congressional Champions during Great Outdoors America Week (June 25-29, 2012) in Washington, DC. Sierra Club youth participants from Baltimore presented the award to the Congressman on the Capitol steps.

Congressman Sarbanes has long been a champion for the outdoors and ensuring young people have access to nature. As the author of the No Child Left Inside Act, he understands that environmental education and spending time outside can improve children’s health, test scores and even their interest in learning.

“I’m honored to be named a Great Outdoors Congressional Champion and look forward to working with the Sierra Club and other advocates to enhance environmental education in Maryland and across the country,” said Congressman John Sarbanes, author of the No Child Left Inside Act. “Getting our students outside and integrating environmental education in our schools improves achievement in science and other subjects. Strong environmental education programs will help to grow the next generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians who will make the discoveries that propel our economy into the future.”

“As a sixteen-veteran of the Baltimore City School System, I have seen firsthand the impact that not having a connection to nature has on the social and emotional wellbeing of my students. I have also seen how exposure to the outdoors and environmental education positively impacts those same children,” said Nicole Veltre, Sierra Club Baltimore Inner City Outings Chair and Baltimore High School Teacher. “If there were more people like Representative Sarbanes, who were committed to ensuring that children had the opportunity to make a connection with nature, no matter their socio-economic background, the world would be a better place.”


Children spend an average of 7.5 hours a day connected to electronic media, and less time getting outside than past generations.  Coupling that troubling statistic, nearly 80 percent of children live in urban areas with limited access to outdoor spaces. Today’s students are falling behind other countries in math and science; environmental education can help make America more competitive by giving kids a context for learning in the great outdoors.

 "Today’s kids are more likely to spend their free time surfing the web than surfing the waves. I have spent quite a few years trying to understand the nature of childhood, and I’ll tell you – there is just not much nature in it,” says Jacqueline Ostfeld, Mission Outdoors Policy and Operations Manager for the Sierra Club. “We need more leaders like Congressman Sarbanes who understand that we must invest in the next generation today for their health and the health of our planet."


Hundreds of activists from around the country gathered in DC this week to reach out to their elected leaders about connecting America with the outdoors and the protection of our wild spaces.

“Great Outdoors America Week is designed to serve as a big tent for all Americans who care about our country’s wild places and green spaces to come together,” said Michael Carroll, the lead organizer of Great Outdoors America Week.  “Sportsmen, veterans, school children, conservationists, business leaders, local elected officials, recreationists--we all care about and have an interest in the future of America’s great outdoors.” 



About Sierra Club

Sierra Club is America's largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization. Inspired by nature, we are 1.4 million of your friends and neighbors, working together to protect our communities and the planet. Sierra Club’s Mission Outdoors program is working to reconnect America with the outdoors. Inner City Outings, a volunteer led program of Sierra Club’s Mission Outdoors, provides excursions in nature to young people all around the country. Read more at http://www.sierraclub.org/missionoutdoors


About Great Outdoors America Week

Great Outdoors America Week offers opportunity for advocates to take direct action on a number of conservation issues, ranging from wilderness and national monument protection to reconnecting inner-city kids to the great outdoors. Great Outdoors America Week serves as another example of the long-standing, bipartisan tradition of conservation in the United States.


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