Out of doors recreation grants to assist MN children keep wholesome – MSR Information On-line

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Jacob Lund – stock.adobe.com

Health experts say absorbing the outdoors and engaging in outdoor activities can keep kids on a healthier path as they grow. But not all of them have equal access to resources, prompting Minnesota officials to offer community-level grants.

The Department of Natural Resources has just begun accepting applications for its latest round of funding for No Child Left Inside.

Jeff Ledermann, supervisor of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ education and skills team, said the grants are targeted at local nonprofits and schools to improve outdoor recreation opportunities.

For example, he pointed out that giving some young people a better chance to be outside when it’s cold has already helped the Minneapolis Nature Preschool. “In some cases they gave clothing for winter activities or had clothing available,” noted Ledermann. “Because these kids don’t come with clothes that they have to take out. So, boots and hats and things like that.”

Elsewhere, in the Perham area, there is a program that helps children with autism connect with nature. The state legislature began funding the grants in 2019. The current phase includes $450,000 for local projects. The current application period is December 7th.

Ledermann emphasized that there is a body of research linking healthier outcomes to outdoor recreation, adding that this has become much clearer during the pandemic.

He emphasized that increasing opportunities among younger populations also leads to increased awareness.
“When kids are small who have spent a lot of time in nature, they care more about nature in nature and are more likely to care,” Ledermann said. “What is of course very important for us is that we come from the DNR.”

Ledermann explained that recent years have given a boost to license purchases for activities such as hunting and fishing, but are returning to pre-pandemic norms with lower demand. Funding comes in mini grants of less than $5,000 or larger grants of up to $25,000.

Mike Moen writes for the Minnesota News Connection.