Online Services | Commonwealth Sites | Help | Governor

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality's logo

No Child Left Inside

On April 22, 2009 the U.S. Senate and House bills introduced the “No Child Left Inside Act of 2009.”  The bills would provide $100 million in new grants to schools that have adopted environmental literacy plans to provide environmental and outdoor educational opportunities for students and professional development for teachers.  No Child Left Inside makes a strong argument for getting children outdoors so that they can learn about their natural environment. Being outside can enhance children’s creativity and critical thinking skills.  Environmental topics such as air quality, energy conservation, wildlife protection, become real and help children become better stewards of their environment. 

General reading

    Last Child in the Woods, author Richard Louve, was the recipient of the 2008 Audubon Metal for his research and book about this topic. For more information, visit the author’s website at:

 Grassroots Organizations that aim to get children outside

Roanoke Valley Kids Club
Kids in the valley, adventuring!

Martinsville - Henry County Community Nature Initiative
Sponsored by the Virginia Museum of Natural History with a grant from the Harvest Foundation

Children & Nature Network
National website with updates on what is happening.  Also includes ideas for getting kids outside. Check out Nature Rocks: Let's Go Explore and learn how to start a local program in your region

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden has gardens designed for children. The garden also offers educational classes for adults and teacher workshops. 

Richmond Audubon Society
The Richmond Audubon Society works with children year-round to get them outdoors.  They take children kayaking, rock climbing, hiking and teach them about wildlife.

 Tips & resources 

Sharing Nature with Children in the Classroom

Beginning reading list on children and nature
A sampling of books to provide background reading for teachers and parents.

The Nature Pyramid
Resilient communities offer multiple opportunities for children to be in nature, for both education and play.  UVA’s Institute for Environmental Negotiation Senior Associate, Tanya Denckla Cobb, created the Nature Pyramid.  Like the “Food Pyramid,” the Nature Pyramid depicts the kinds of activities that are important for human health, and indicates desired proportions of these different activities. Since Denckla Cobb developed this concept, the Nature Pyramid has been incorporated into an environmental education curriculum, and has been presented to various audiences.  It is a concept in progress. She welcomes your feedback at

Websites that offer activities/ideas for getting kids outside
Science activities and games

Family Activities
10 backyard science activities

How stuff works
Easy outdoor science activities for kids

North Carolina Museum of Natural Science
Take a child outside activities

Online Schoolyard & Classroom Investigations
Connecting outdoor instruction to the Illinois Standards of Learning

South Dakota Division of Wildlife
Resources, activities and contact information to help kids learn about their natural world.

Other links of interest about getting outdoors

American Camp Association
Camping experiences are essential to children's growth and development. Camping fosters an appreciation of the enviornment and helps children to grow up to become good stewards to the environment. Information about camp accreditation and affilliations.

Get Outdoors
Find outdoor activities and where visitors can go to try backpacking, camping, hiking, rock climbing, etc. Website has terrains listed for exploration. Get information about parks and bodies of water throughout the nation.

Great Outdoor Recreation Pages
Adventure Vacations, Activity Guides, City Guides, National Parks, Campgrounds, Outdoor Gear, etc. Information about North, Central and South America, Canada, and Europe.

Outdoor Recreation in America
National events calendar for outdoor activities. Oudoor Recreation in America is sponsored by the American Recreation Coalition.  Their mission is to protect public lands and enhance outdoor recreational activities.

Take Me Fishing
Everything you need to know to get started fishing with the family and the kids.  Includes a "Little Lunkers" page to teach kids about fish.

Virginia Department of Parks & Recreation
Information about state parks, natural heritage, soil and water conservation, and special events.

Virginia Master Naturalist Program
The Virginia Master Naturalist Program is a statewide corps of volunteers providing education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities.

Outdoor recreational activities.  Select the state and the activity that you are interested in getting more information about.

YouTube - Sesame Street's Jason Mraz
Sesame Street'sJason Mraz and the Sesame Street characters sing about going outdoors. 

Resources for teachers

Your Backyard Classroom (Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation)
Science and Social Studies lesson plans designed to help teachers utilize state parks.

Project Underground (Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation)
Environmental education to provide better understanding of caves and karsts.

Environmental education activities (Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation)
Environmental stewardship activities, planting native plants and removing invasive species,  water monitoring, litter cleanups, etc.

Project WET (Virginia Department of Environmental Quality)
Educational program for teachers.  Project WET addresses atmospheric water, surface water, ground water, cultural and historical uses of water, and contemporary water management issues such as nonpoint source pollution. Project WET addresses atmospheric water, surface water, ground water, cultural and historical uses of water, and contemporary water management issues such as nonpoint source pollution.

Project WILD and other programs (Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries)
Conservation and environmental education programs. Teaches ecology and ecological concepts.

Project Learning Tree (Virginia Department of Forestry)
Forestry activities and scientific investigation.

Lessons in the schoolyard
Directory of lessons taught outside in Northern Virginia and DC

Agriculture in the Classroom
AITC is a statewide educational program providing teachers with staff development and resources designed to bring the standards to life through real-life applications.

Directory of schoolyard enhancements for learning in Northern Virginia and DC

Grant opportunities

Virginia Naturally Classroom Grants
Educators who are looking for grants to conduct environmental education will find this site helpful.  Tips for applying for grants and additional resources are also available from this site.

Leave No Trace
Educators and volunteers teach about how people can have a minimum impact on the environment.


Templ:DEQTemplate_one | Editable:false | StartFldr:/vanaturally/ | CurrentFilename:homepage.html;