Policy Framework

Time outdoors makes kids happier, healthier and smarter.

Key Principles

Our policy framework is informed by key principles that define and inform our approach to state policy focused on youth outdoor engagement. High-quality state policy should be:

  • Child-centered and focused on the whole child
  • Family focused and multigenerational 
  • Equitable access for all 
  • Leverage multiple approaches
  • Locally supported
  • Culturally relevant
  • Research based
  • Systemic
Our policy and investment recommendations reflect the understanding that the health of children and families, social and environmental justice, and the health of the natural world are inexorably linked.

Community Benefits of Youth Outdoor Policies

When kids spend more time outside, everyone benefits. Some of the outcomes associated with engaging youth in regular outdoor activities outdoors include:

Public Health and Wellness

When kids and their families spend more time outdoors, using the natural infrastructure that exists in every community, communities see meaningful, documented improvements to health and wellbeing.

Education and Workforce Development

Integrating outdoor education and environmental literacy into education and workforce development training creates new job opportunities and improves education and learning outcomes.

Youth Development

High quality nature-based programs support positive youth development and social emotional outcomes.

Economic Development and Conservation

Outdoor recreation and conservation provide direct economic benefits to local communities.

Policy Strategies for Advancing Youth Outdoor Engagement

State legislatures and other policy makers are passing laws and creating policies to enable, advance, establish, and fund youth outdoor engagement.

Outdoor Learning Opportunities and Environments

Outdoor Access and Connectivity

Systemic Environmental Literacy and Education