[Baltimore Sun] Maryland Gov. Wes Moore issues executive order calling for environmental literacy

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Gov. Wes Moore issued an executive order Monday establishing an environmental literacy program in an effort to empower Maryland youth to conserve and restore the state’s natural resources in the face of climate change.

“We owe it to the people of Maryland to keep our drinking water clean, keep our air safe, and preserve our national treasures — from the Western Mountains to the Chesapeake Bay,” Moore, a Democrat, said in a statement Monday evening.

Moore announced the creation of the Maryland Outdoor Learning Partnership, which is charged with conducting a review of climate change education efforts and providing recommendations to ensure students engage with the environment and have access to environmental education.

The partnership, which will absorb the Project Green Classrooms program, incorporates a bevy of executive agencies — including the departments of natural resources, education, health and transportation — that will work with nonprofits like the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the National Aquarium and the National Wildlife Federation.

It will be co-chaired by Department of Natural Resources Secretary Josh Kurtz and State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Carey M. Wright, or their designees, and will meet monthly.

Moore signed the Earth Day executive order at the Maryland Department of the Environment headquarters in Baltimore, where he also discussed agency-led efforts to combat climate change and reduce pollution.

He also participated in a tree planting ceremony.

The executive order acknowledged that communities around the state and its natural resources, like the Chesapeake Bay, face current challenges that are likely to be exacerbated by the effects of climate change, and that Marylanders must be educated and prepared to enter into a green job economy in order to thrive.

It also said that student engagement outdoors increases achievement, improves their health and encourages them to engage in their communities.

The partnership will hold an annual meeting, during which one or more student representatives attending K-12 school programs will assess the status of their work, which is to be compiled in an annual report.

“Young people are already our greatest asset in tackling our climate challenges because they understand the threat,” said Serena McIlwain, the secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment. “Now we are giving them the tools.”

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