Outdoor Learning Program Legislation

Outdoor Learning Program legislation, sponsored by Senator Siah Correa Hemphill, was passed during the 2022 New Mexico Legislative Session. The legislation will result in the creation of two new positions at the NM Public Education Department (PED) to support outdoor learning statewide, more professional development focused on outdoor education for NM’s teachers, and microgrants for the construction of outdoor classrooms on school grounds throughout the state.

Bill History
See the bill tracking table below or click here to learn more about the history of this legislation. It was introduced as Senate Bill 32 (SB 32) and unanimously passed the first committee that considered it, the Senate Education Committee. It then moved to the Senate Finance Committee where it was added as an amendment to House Bill 2 (HB 2), the General Appropriations Act (budget). HB 2 was then passed by the Senate and concurred by the House. HB 2 was signed by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on March 9.

Thank you to the wonderful community members who joined Environmental Education of New Mexico (EENM) and Wild Friends to advocate for healthier learning opportunities for New Mexico’s kids!

Bill Tracking: Outdoor Learning Program Legislation

DateCommitteeOutcomeScheduled Next
3/9/22Governor Lujan GrishamSigned HB 2N/A
2/16/22House FloorSenate Report
Governor Lujan Grisham
2/14/22Senate FloorPassed, 37-3House Floor
2/14/22Senate Finance Committee*Added as an Amendment
to HB 2, General
Appropriations Act
Senate Floor
1/26/22Senate Education Committee*Do Pass, 7-0Senate Finance
1/19/22Senate Committee’s CommitteeDo Pass, Ruled GermaineSenate Education
*Click the link to visit the Committee’s webpage for legislator contact info

Advocacy Toolkit

We compiled this advocacy toolkit for youth, educators, teachers, parents, and community members to support SB 32, the Outdoor Learning Program Bill. Below, you will find resources for reaching out and expressing support to New Mexico Legislators, along with a variety of resources about outdoor learning and how this request fits into a multi-year strategy to broaden support for outdoor learning and outdoor classrooms in the Land of Enchantment.

View: video of Advocacy Training by EENM & Wild Friends on January 20, 2022

Legislative Process
Advocacy for the Outdoor Learning Program Bill
Why this Outdoor Learning Bill?

There have been a variety of statewide initiatives over the last several years that justify the development of an Outdoor Learning Program at the Public Education Department including the following:

  1. Every Kid, Every Day, Every Way –  Beginning in 2018, EENM brought together over 200 individuals representing over 90 groups and 17 EENM Fellows to create a shared vision and strategy, the first of its kind in the country. This framework provides a pathway for systemic change to support equitable daily access to the outdoors and environmental learning in New Mexico. The Outdoor Learning Bill is in direct response to Policy Recommendation #1 “Resource an Office of Outdoor and Environmental Education at the state level to support teachers and school staff.”
  2. Senate Memorial 1 – During the 2021 Legislative Session, there was strong bi-partisan support for the successful passage of Senate Memorial 1 (SM1) in support of outdoor classrooms. SM1 was drafted by New Mexico students through Wild Friends, a unique, award-winning civics education program at the UNM School of Law. After its passage, EENM partnered with Wild Friends to support SM1. This involved facilitating and coordinating the Interagency Outdoor Classroom Task Force,  the development of a well-received report of Task Force recommendations to the Legislative Education Study Committee in November 2021, and supporting New Mexico’s first Outdoor Learning Week.
  3. Sign-On Letter – In fall 2021, EENM led a statewide effort through a sign-on letter to show broad support of dozens of schools, organizations, and businesses along with hundreds of individuals representing all areas of the state for outdoor classrooms and outdoor learning. The sign-on letter components that were sent to decision makers have been compiled with a cover letter for Legislators into this package for use in advocating for the current Outdoor Learning Program Bill.
  4. Case Studies – EENM released New Mexico Outdoor Classrooms: A Colletion of Case Studies in October 2021 to highlight the many evidence-based benefits of outdoor learning and how outdoor classrooms are implemented in a variety of locally relevant ways across the state.
  5. SOEL Inventory and Landscape Analysis – Currently, there are over 400 programs that support over 280,000 New Mexico kids (preK-12th grade) in outdoor and environmental learning annually as demonstrated by the State of Outdoor and Environmental Learning (SOEL): A Landscape Analysis of Opportunities in the Southwest developed by EENM, USDA Forest Service’s Southwestern Region, and Arizona Association for Environmental Education. The Outdoor Learning Bill will help connect public school teachers with these programs along with identifying needs for ongoing professional learning for teachers and educators and filling in gaps to allow for all New Mexico kids to have access to regular outdoor and environmental learning.