Washington State’s outdoor recreation economy represents $21.6 billion in economic activity directly supporting 199,000 jobs. Yet the state invests very little in the promotion or support of this massive employer. At the same time, childhood obesity is growing at a staggering rate. Getting kids off the couch and into the wilderness is not only good for their physical health, but study after study shows that it is excellent for their mental and emotional health.
State Senator Kevin Ranker wrote legislation this year that would revitalize a grant program for outdoor education for kids — with emphasis on serving children who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches and those at risk of not graduating high school. No Child Left Inside would also prioritize funding for programs that serve military families or involve veterans in their operations. Ranker hopes the program will help grow his state’s economy and preserve its environment by investing in ways to make outdoor recreation an engine of economic opportunity.