Maryland governor selects Sultana Education Foundation for new Outdoor Learning Partnership

ANNAPOLIS — On Earth Day, during a visit to the Maryland Department of the Environment’s headquarters in Baltimore, Gov. Wes Moore signed an executive order establishing the Maryland Outdoor Learning Partnership.

The interagency collaboration of state agencies, federal partners, nonprofit environmental and outdoor education organizations, and formal education partners is tasked with ensuring Maryland students have meaningful access to outdoor education about the environment, climate and the natural world.

Chestertown-based Sultana Education Foundation is one of about two dozen organizations invited to join the partnership. Others include the Living Classrooms Foundation, the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the National Aquarium, Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education.

“We are excited to share experiences with partners around the state and work with them to shape Maryland’s outdoor learning goals,” SEF Vice President Chris Cerino said in a news release.

“Over the past 20 years, SEF has introduced more than 150,000 students to the Chesapeake Bay, encouraging them to become stewards of this unique natural resource,” said Cerino, who will lead Sultana’s participation in the Outdoor Learning Partnership.

He added, “We see this partnership as another opportunity to enhance our existing programs, provide professional development opportunities for area teachers, and work with other nonprofit organizations to expand the impact of outdoor education in Maryland.”

Reconnecting students with the environment has become particularly important in the years following the global pandemic, when many children were isolated from their peers and spent inordinate amounts of time on computers and screens, leading to widespread mental health challenges for young learners.

“In addition to enhancing classroom learning, spending quality time in outdoor settings has a host of mental health benefits that we see every day when students attend our field trips,” Cerino said in the news release.

“We’re incredibly fortunate on the Eastern Shore to have some of the most beautiful tributaries and bucolic settings found anywhere on the Chesapeake Bay, and we look forward to working with Governor Moore and our nonprofit partners to bring students to these pristine locations to reap their academic and mental health benefits for years to come.”

According to the governor’s office, the goal of the partnership is to develop Maryland students as environmental caretakers by providing structured outdoor educational opportunities where they can learn how to access, conserve and restore the state’s natural resources.

The Outdoor Learning Partnership, which will absorb the Project Green Classrooms program, also will recommend ways for school systems to lessen the impacts their buildings and grounds have on local waterways and the environment, such as by reforesting unused land or developing renewable energy sources.

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One Response

  1. What great news and what great company SEF is in! Sounds like a fantastic initiative for students and educators. Bravo!

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