WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) was honored with the “Best of Green Schools Award” for his work on the Living Schoolyards Act by the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council, in collaboration with the Green Schools National Network. The award celebrate the leaders—individuals, schools, campuses and organizations—advancing the organizations’ shared vision of green schools. Senator Heinrich accepted the award in a video message played at the 2023 Green Schools Conference in New Orleans.
“From my days as an outdoor educator and outfitter guide to trips on public lands with my own sons, I have seen time and again how getting outside can change a child’s whole world,” said Heinrich. “For many kids, the closest outdoor space is not a national or even a neighborhood park. It is the spaces right outside their classroom doors. Schools are really the beating heart of most communities. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reimagine the campuses where our children learn and grow and remake their outdoor grounds into much healthier and greener spaces.”
Last year, Senator Heinrich introduced the Living Schoolyards Act to enable schools to completely re-envision their outdoor school grounds. The legislation would establish an Outdoor Learning Spaces Grants program, administered by the U.S. Department of Education, to allow schools or districts to create outdoor classrooms and learning spaces.
Senator Heinrich announced the legislation during a visit to the gardens on the campus of Enos Garcia Elementary School in Taos, N.M., where students are learning how to grow and harvest healthy local foods like Taos Pueblo blue corn, Santa Clara white corn, and Taos red beans.
Senator Heinrich has long championed expanding outdoor opportunities for children. His bipartisan law, the Every Kid Outdoors Act, provided every fourth grader in America and their families with free entrance to explore the rich natural and cultural history on display in our national parks, forests, and monuments.
Senator Heinrich has also supported the State of New Mexico’s establishment of the first-of-its-kind Outdoor Equity Fund, which provides grant funding to community-driven programs that take kids from underserved communities on outdoor adventures.