04/29/2018: "The Gov Working To Get Kids Outdoors"
Gov. Jay Inslee has announced the award of nearly $1.5 million in grants to programs in 18 counties statewide aimed at getting kids outdoors.
The San Juan Island Conservation District’s project (San Juan Islands Youth Conservation Corps and Muddy Boots) and the Lopez Island Family Resource’s project (Lopez Island Youth Outdoor Education), both submitted grant applications, but neither scored high enough to receive funding. The two projects both tied for 27 out of 72 projects.
The No Child Left Inside grants will be awarded by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. The grants target at-risk youth by focusing on programs that provide outdoor education and recreation programs. In addition, nearly one-third of the 39 projects to receive funding employ veterans, a special emphasis of the program. The Legislature approved an additional $500,000 for program this biennium.
The grants will provide programs for nearly 23,000 kids. This year’s grant recipients are offering a variety of educational and recreational activities, from exploring Mount Saint Helens to planting trees for a salmon restoration project, to sailing on a 133-foot ship, to white water river rafting.
“Some of my best childhood memories are of being outside,” Inslee said. “Many of our kids don’t get that opportunity today. That’s why these local programs are so important. When children spend time outside, so many good things happen. Kids can improve their health and their grades. And that’s a win for all of us.”
Grants were awarded in the following counties:
Chelan County............. $61,569
Clallam County............. $53,198
Clark County................ $40,683
Cowlitz County............. $27,288
Franklin County............ $10,439
King County................. $341,806
Kitsap County.............. $75,000
Kittitas County............. $59,505
Klickitat County............ $72,819
Lewis County............... $25,525
Mason County............. $86,090
Okanogan County........ $22,650
Pierce County.............. $225,181
Snohomish County....... $21,300
Spokane County.......... $81,554
Thurston County.......... $53,143
Whatcom County......... $157,070
Yakima County............. $75,000
“The expansion of the program this year reflects a growing commitment to creating healthy outdoor recreation and education opportunities for our young people,” said Don Hoch, director of the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. “We recognize and appreciate the support of the Governor, Legislature, Recreation and Conservation Office and the many nonprofit organizations who work hard to connect youth with the outdoors.”
Funding for the No Child Left Inside grant program was one of a dozen recommendations of the 2014 Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation. The task force was charged with finding ways to increase participation in outdoor recreation, which has significant social and economic benefits.
The Legislature provided funding for the grant program first in 2008, but the program ended during the recession when funding was no longer available. In 2015, state Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island) spearheaded an effort to reinvigorate the program. Grants were awarded in 2016 and again this year. Funding comes from the state General Fund. The grants are administered by the state Recreation and Conservation Office.
“We know it’s hard to compete with cell phones and other electronic devices,” said Ranker, who served on the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force for Parks and Outdoor Recreation and created and secured funding for the No Child Left Inside grant program. “That’s why these grants are so important. They get our children outside so they can play, exercise and learn more about the natural world outside their back doors. The result, they will be healthier and better connected to their communities and become the next generation of environmental stewards.”
Grant recipients will be matching the state funding and are contributing nearly $3 million in donations, equipment, labor, additional grants, and other resources.
“These grant programs provide a variety of great opportunities for our youth,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office. “I just wish we could fund them all. We had 123 applications requesting more than $4.5 million, but we only have funding to award grants to one-third of them. That means there still are a lot more needs out there.”