In January, Environmental Education of New Mexico released its “Every Kid, Every Day, Every Way” strategy for outdoor and environmental learning, with clear recommendations that will help achieve equitable access to the outdoors for all New Mexico kids.
The plan has been developed leveraging three years of community conversations, with input from more than 200 individuals from 90 different organizations, agencies and schools. EENM’s 17 paid fellows also have been closely involved in developing the plan.
The long-term goals of the EENM plan are that every New Mexico child will have access to the outdoors and environmental learning; that New Mexico’s children are supported in daily experiences outdoors, in both in-school and out-of-school experiences; and to identify and promote the variety of approaches that help connect kids with the outdoors. These connections include but are not limited to conservation, experiential, environmental, land-based, nature-based outdoor and place-based education.
A few of the key recommendations of the plan are:
- Establish an Office of Outdoor and Environmental Education at the state level to support teachers and school staff. Embed outdoor ambassadors in every school district and ultimately at every school.
- Develop a network of outdoor gear plus "libraries" to support kids, families and community members.
- Restructure requirements and resources for pre-service and in-service teachers to include an introduction to outdoor learning. Finance and support teachers for ongoing professional development annually.
For more than 25 years, EENM has been “boots on the ground” realizing the success of outdoor learning and environmental education. We support over 150 organizations that offer outdoor programming to 200,000 New Mexican kids annually, groups like the Sandia Mountain Natural History Center, which leads ecological science programs on-site for all fifth graders in Albuquerque Public Schools and Rio Rancho Public Schools; the Valencia Soil and Water Conservation District; New Mexico Highlands University and many more.
EENM is a strong supporter of the New Mexico Office of Outdoor Recreation and of the Outdoor Equity Fund, both of which are working to expand the outdoor recreation economy — and access to the outdoors — to every corner of New Mexico and bring jobs, prosperity and wellness to all state residents. "Every Kid, Every Day, Every Way" provides clear directions and strategies for the Office of Outdoor Recreation and other state agencies developed from communities representing interconnected interests like outdoor recreation, education, conservation and environmental justice.
The announcement of EENM’s comprehensive outdoor education road map comes at the same time that Wild Friends, a student civics group organized by the University of New Mexico, introduced Senate Memorial 1 requesting the establishment of a task force to promote the use of outdoor classrooms in New Mexico, in partnership with EENM. This bill, which has been passed by the Legislature, is in direct alignment with Every Kid, Every Day, Every Way. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Siah Correa Hemphill, D-Silver City.
EENM is poised to provide leadership for getting kids outside because of its robust collaboration with many organizations that have been providing outdoor and environmental education across the state, with the goal to reach all New Mexico children.
EENM’s first monthly gathering to support the implementation of our strategy and vision will be from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday at www.eenm.org.