Task Force To Promote Outdoor Classroom
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Outdoor Learning in Schools
Early Childhood Education
In 2012, New Mexico unanimously passed their Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights, encouraging state agencies to develop more outdoor recreation and learning opportunities for New Mexico youth. Since 2012, state agencies and community organizations have expressed interest in establishing and developing outdoor classrooms at schools. Leaders within the Wild Friends Program, a civics education program at the University of New Mexico School of Law, co-developed this memorial with Sen. Siah Correa Hemphill based on the momentum around outdoor learning this year and the ways educators have used outdoor learning as a COVID-19 response. In New Mexico, a memorial is a way for the legislature to formally express a desire or declaration of intent. Memorials require both chambers to pass, and do not have the force of a law.
This bill charges the New Mexico Outdoor Recreation Division of the Economic Development Department and the State Parks Division of Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department to bring together a task force. This task force will make recommendations to improve and expand outdoor classrooms in schools across the state and recommend steps to build career paths for youth by studying existing youth career development efforts related to the outdoors.
This task force’s membership includes representatives from the Wild Friends Program, Environmental Education of New Mexico, and several state agencies, including the Public Education Department and the State Land Office.
By October 31, 2021, the task force will submit a report that explains their recommendations, including plans to promote outdoor classrooms in all New Mexico schools. This bill also calls for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to declare an “Outdoor Learning Day” in 2021. The Senate passed the memorial 34-2.
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