Natasha Blakely, email@example.com
LANSING, MICHIGAN – Today, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the “Nature Awaits” program, which would grant every Michigan fourth grader a free field trip to a state park. The governor’s recent budget allocated $4 million to the program, an investment that will ensure Michigan’s children can actually take advantage of the program.
“Michigan’s great outdoors are our pride and joy and one of our most important assets,” said Governor Whitmer. “Unfortunately, too many in Michigan never get to experience the natural wonder of Pure Michigan. By offering every fourth grader in Michigan a field trip to a state park, we can offer them a life-changing experience, connect them with nature, and show them what makes Michigan special while also driving growth of our tourism and recreation economy.
Nature Awaits is a much-needed initial extension of an important federal program to the state level. Sierra Club’s Outdoors for All campaign along with our partners in the Outdoors Alliance for Kids have been advocating for states to adopt the use of the federal Every Kid Outdoors program launched in 2015 by President Obama. The Every Kid Outdoors program grants all fourth graders and their families around the country a yearlong free access pass to federal public lands, waters and parks.
“This announcement is a victory for families, children, and the environment,” said Jackie Ostfeld, director of Sierra Club’s Outdoors for All campaign and co-founder of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids. “Michigan is home to a wide range of beautiful green spaces, and the Nature Awaits program will mean more opportunities for kids to develop new appreciation for and experience the healing benefits of nature right next door. Michigan joins five other states in this effort to expand access to parks for children, and we encourage more states to follow.”
Sierra Club’s Michigan Chapter has been advocating for the expansion of Every Kid Outdoors in Michigan with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. It’s part of the Michigan Chapter’s long history advocating for and organizing around expanding access to the outdoors, which extends back to the chapter’s pivotal contribution to the Sleeping Bear Dunes’ determination as a national lakeshore.
“Reducing barriers to the outdoors, especially for children from low-income families, is the first step to cultivating the next generation of environmental leaders,” said Elayne Elliott, director of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. “Not only will this program laid out by the Governor ensure all children have the opportunity to experience our great Michigan outdoors, but it will also help children discover their appreciation for nature, encourage an active and healthy lifestyle, and educate future generations of 4th graders about the importance of protecting our natural resources.”
Youth- and community-focused collaborative Detroit Outdoors – which includes Sierra Club, the YMCA of Metro Detroit, and Detroit Parks and Recreation – has been actively engaging with planning and implementation of several large Every Kid Outdoors events to hand out passes to local students over the years, alongside advocating for a local version of the pass with the Michigan DNR.
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.