The State of Outdoor Policy: A Recap of 2023 and What’s in Store for 2024


The State of Outdoor Policy: A Recap of 2023 and What’s in Store for 2024

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In this eeWEBINAR presented by the Youth Outdoor Policy Partnership, we explore state policies that advance youth outdoor engagement and education. Joined by state legislators and partners, we take a look back at some of the policy successes of 2023 and hear about some of the most promising opportunities for 2024. YOPP is a partnership of NAAEE, the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, Nuestra Tierra Conservation, and the Children & Nature Network.

Partners & Speakers:

Delegate Michele Guyton, Maryland 

Maryland Delegate Michele Guyton wearing a yellow jacket smiling at the camera

Michele Guyton is a state delegate representing Maryland district 42B. Last year she passed HB 525 to create the outdoor preschool pilot program and two years ago she passed HB 749 to create a pilot program for a Park Explorers program. It's a grant program to target youth populations with minimal access to green spaces, promote the positive aspects of being outdoors, and provide conservation concepts and local history and culture in its messaging.

In the past, she was on the Ways Means Committee and Education Subcommittee, and was on the Board of Education before she was in the General Assembly. Her focus is ensuring appropriate and accessible education for everyone, including and especially those with disabilities. Now that she is on the Environment and Transportation Committee she can focus even more on making sure kids can get the positive benefits of learning in nature and being outdoors.

Ángel Peña, Nuestra Tierra

Photo of Ángel Peña who has short black hair and wears glasses and a white tunic with colorful embroidery.

Ángel Peña was born and raised in the Río Bravo valley, he is a first generation Mexican, American and father of three. Àngel has had the opportunity to support and lead strong effective teams that ultimately secured protections totaling millions of acres across the American Southwest. A founding member of the Next 100 Coalition, and now the Executive Director of the Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project he is in the business of people empowerment. Working to empower the people that have true, authentic and deep-rooted ties to the land.

Julie McCleery, University of Washington's Center for Leadership in Athletics

Photo of Julie McCleery who has shoulder length brown hair and wears a magenta-colored floral top.

Julie is the Director of Research-Practice Partnerships at the University of Washington's Center for Leadership in Athletics. In that role, she conducts and translates research into actionable, community-oriented solutions and programming. Her primary areas of focus are coaching, youth sports and physical activity, play equity, and women in sport. One of her primary research to practice initiatives is the 2019 State of Play research, a landscape analysis of youth physical activity in King County, WA which served as a springboard for the King County Play Equity Coalition. The coalition is comprised of over 100 organizations focused on systemic change in the youth physical activity sector and has resulted in several policy wins including new elementary recess requirements in Washington state. Julie received a B.A. from Georgetown University, an M.Ed. from Harvard, a Ph.D. from the University of Washington, and she is in her second year of a JD program at Seattle University. 

Grant Gliniecki, National Caucus of Environmental Legislators

Photo of Grant Gliniecki who wears round glasses, has long wavy brown hair, and tan leather jewelry.

Grant (He/They) serves as the Outdoor Policy Coordinator at the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, where he works with state legislators across the country advancing outdoor education, recreation, access, and equity. Grant holds a Community Sustainability M.S. and is currently completing a Ph.D. in Community Sustainability at Michigan State University centered on restoring sustainable, loving relationships between human beings, Anishinaabewaki // Anishinaabe land, and our more-than-human relatives. They founded and run an Indigenous community garden nonprofit, Giitigan in Nkwejong  // Where the rivers meet (Lansing, MI), and have served as a leader in transgender, Indigenous, and disability advocacy for over a decade. 

Sarah Bodor, NAAEE

Photo of Sarah Bodor who has blonde shoulder-length hair and wears a blue button-up shirt, dark blazer.

Sarah, NAAEE's Senior Director of Capacity Building, comes from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, where she held a number of program management and leadership positions throughout the organization. She worked closely with state education agencies in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia to develop and pilot standards-based curricula and provide teacher professional development. Her background also includes communications and fundraising. In 2008, she served as the writer of Maryland’s Children in Nature Plan, which resulted in passage of Maryland’s environmental high school graduation requirement.

Children & Nature Network

The Children & Nature Network works to increase equitable access to nature everywhere children live, learn, and play by fostering the belief that nature is essential for healthy development; growing an inclusive global movement; and changing the big systems that impact children’s daily lives. Our vision is a world in which children have access to the benefits of nature everywhere they live, learn, and play and our mission is to increase equitable access to nature so that children–and the natural world–can thrive.

Learn more about C&NN here.

National Caucus of Environmental Legislators

Created by and for state legislators, the Caucus serves as a resource on environmental issues through legislative research, organized events, and by facilitating collaboration between lawmakers working on similar issues. The National Caucus of Environmental Legislators’ mission is to empower a nonpartisan network of legislative champions to protect, conserve, and improve the natural and human environment. NCEL’s vision is state leadership that advances a clean and healthy environment for all.

Learn more about NCEL here.

Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project

Established in 2019, the organization has already begun spearheading state and national level policy work. This includes establishing the New Mexico Outdoor Equity Fund, leading the national Outdoor F.U.T.U.R.E Initiative, and co-founding the Monumental Shift Coalition. Nuestra Tierra continues to ground its work in place-based work led by diverse communities in New Mexico and the borderlands, such as supporting efforts to permanently protect Boot-heel communities in southern New Mexico and Castner Range in El Paso, Texas. Nuestra Tierra strives to maintain a strong local presence through ongoing work in our immediate community. 

Learn more about the Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project. 


This webinar is brought to you by ee360+ and eeINSPIRE.

ee360+: Building a Stronger and More Inclusive Movement Through Collective Impact

An ambitious multi-year initiative, the ee360+ Leadership and Training Collaborative connects, trains, and promotes innovative leaders dedicated to using the power of education to create a more just and sustainable future for everyone, everywhere. Led by NAAEE, ee360+ is made possible through funding and support from U.S. EPA and twenty-seven partner organizations representing universities and nonprofits across the country, and five federal agencies. Through this partnership, ee360+ brings together more than five decades of expertise to grow, strengthen, and diversify the environmental education field. Visit to learn more.

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eeINSPIRE: Sparking Innovation in Environmental Education

We are pleased to continue eeINSPIRE, NAAEE's webinar series presented in partnership with the US Forest Service. This series is designed to bring new ideas and thinking to USFS conservation educators, but is open to all who want to sign up!


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Upcoming eeINSPIRE Webinars

Future topics will include: increasing civic engagement through education and service-learning, becoming a natural and effective storyteller, citizen science in education, building a diverse and inclusive field, and more. 

We look forward to seeing you online, and stay tuned for updates on upcoming webinars in the series!