Celebrating the Military Child Outside!
Sierra Club joined UpaDowna of the Pike's Peak Community Foundation this month to celebrate Colorado's two great resources: the outdoors and its strong military community. The Celebration of the Military Child Outside brought more than 20 outdoor recreation and conservation organizations together with nearly 400 military kids, families and friends to the America the Beautiful Park in Colorado Springs. Speakers from Sierra Club, the National Military Family Association and campers from Operation Purple®
camps shared their experiences with the crowd as they enjoyed lunch from La'au's Tacos. Activities and information included introduction to kayaking, rock climbing and information about are state and national parks from organizations such as Pikes Peak YMCA, Colorado Mountain Club and Colorado Springs Frisbee Golf.
Sierra Club believes in the potential of the Colorado's vast outdoor opportunities to help the more than 39,000 military families in the state cope with the stresses of war, whether it's through Sierra Club outings, family retreats, a week at Operation Purple® camp or just a family excursion on the trails or the river. The Celebration of the Military Child Outside provided families from around the state a chance to get together, hear about the benefits of the outdoors and explore some of the activities and resources provided by local organizations, all while enjoying the scenic backdrop of the America the Beautiful Park.
"We want to let our youngest heroes know that our community is there for them, that we care, and that we'll do our best to share what we know about making the outdoors accessible," says Stacy Bare, Sierra Club's National Military Families and Veterans Outdoors Representative.
No Child Left Inside Act Introduced in Congress
Safeguarding our communities and protecting our air, water and lands from climate disruption and other threats will require a sustained effort and a well-educated generation (or two) to understand the problems and respond with smart solutions. Over the years, students in the US have been falling behind in education, especially when it comes to reading, math and science. If we don’t invest in student education today, who will have the knowledge to identify (let alone the skills to tackle) our long-term environmental challenges?
Schools and educators are increasingly seeing the value of using the environment and the outdoors as a context for learning across subject areas. In addition to ensuring today’s kids are prepared to take on tomorrow's environmental challenges, environmental education has been shown to benefit kids in some more immediate ways. Research is demonstrating that using nature as a teaching tool can improve student achievement, test scores, motivation, self-esteem and critical thinking. In one pivotal study, a few days of outdoor experiential environmental education significantly increased student interest in learning and improved their science test scores by 27 percent.
Unfortunately, schools are pressed for resources to implement environmental education opportunities. The No Child Left Inside Act of 2011, introduced this month by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Congressman John Sarbanes (D-MD), would begin to address this challenge by providing resources to the states to develop and implement environmental education plans for their K-12 students.
Welcome Apprentice Mark Lemke
Did you know that Sierra Club has an Environmental Career Apprenticeship Program? For the last four years, we have been taking recent college graduates under our wing to help them make the transition from college life to environmental leadership. This year, we welcome Apprentice Mark Lemke, a recent graduate from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, to our team. Mark just received a BS in Environmental Studies: Management and Policy with a minor in Economics. From 2004-2008, Mark served as an Airplane Firefighter in the United States Marine Corps. While he grew up in Crown Point, Indiana, Mark decided to settle in Asheville, North Carolina following his service. There, the Appalachian Mountains instilled a love of the outdoors and environmental stewardship in him.
We are thrilled to welcome Mark to our team!