OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee announced $1.3 million in funding Monday to get more than 14,000 kids who might not otherwise have opportunities to explore parks, forests and other outdoor places in Washington, more active and involved in their community.
The funding includes more than $280,000 in grant funding in Mason and Thurston counties.
Awarded by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, the No Child Left Inside grants focus on programs that provide outdoor education and recreation to underserved youth. This year’s No Child Left Inside grants will help kids spend a total of more than 1 million hours outside, doing everything from hiking to kayaking and rock climbing.
“This is about investing in our kids and making sure they have equal access to the outdoors,” Inslee said. “We know that kids who spend time outdoors do better in school, are less stressed and get more exercise and social interaction. Some of my best childhood memories happened outdoors, and this funding is a big part of making sure these opportunities–to learn, grow and discover the world around us–are open to everyone.”
In Mason County, The Hood Canal School District was awarded $136,490 in grant funding. They will use this grant to offer its Bringing Outdoor and Occupational Teaching to Students (BOOTS) and Riparian Enhancement Program. The yearlong, program exposes students to the region's natural beauty and resources through hands-on learning. The program combines adventure-based activities, such as hiking, wilderness backpacking, kayaking, and climbing with a place-based outdoor environmental science curriculum.
In Thurston County, Garden-Raised Bounty, Cultivating Youth and Food in the South Sound earned 75,000 in grant funding. Garden-Raised Bounty will use this grant to engage more than 200 youth in agriculture-based dropout prevention and re-engagement programs in Thurston and Pierce Counties. This project will engage more than 80 youth in 7 weeks of farm-based job training and outdoor experiential education over two summers, earning $1,000 and one technical education credit in sustainable agriculture.
Nisqually River Foundation, helping Nisqually Tribal youth explore and connect, earned $74,931 in grant funding. The Nisqually River Foundation will use this grant to help up to 100 students from the Nisqually Indian Tribe’s Youth Services Program and up to 40 students from the Wa He Lut Indian School access environmental education in their home watershed.
Grant recipients will be matching the state funding and are contributing nearly $3 million in donations, equipment, labor, additional grants and other resources.