President Obama Proclaims June as Great Outdoors Month, Governors Join In

June has been officially designated Great Outdoors Month by President Barack Obama and nearly all of America’s governors. The proclamations were suggested by a coalition of dozens of recreation and conservation organizations, many of which coordinate special events held during June, including National Trails Day®, National Fishing and Boating Week, National Get Outdoors Day and the Great American Backyard Campout.

President Obama’s proclamation states, “The United States is blessed with unparalleled natural beauty. From remote forests to urban parks, these spaces have inspired visitors for generations.” It goes on to say, “Exploring the great outdoors can also help improve one's health. These spaces provide countless venues for walking, hiking, running, swimming, and boating, among other activities. Americans can combine the enjoyment of being outside with the exercise we all need to stay healthy.”

The proclamation highlights important initiatives of the Administration, noting that it is “working to connect America's youth with our treasured landscapes, which should be viewed as classrooms for environmental education and gateways to careers in natural resources. These efforts will include outreach to those who typically lack representation in, and exposure to, these fields. The Department of the Interior is launching a summer mentoring initiative as part of this effort. This program invites families and friends to teach children about the joys and wonders of the outdoors. My Administration is also increasing the number of youth involved in national service on public lands.” The President concludes, “I encourage all Americans to spend more time outside and to participate in the nationwide events marking this occasion.”

Again in 2009, a vast majority of America’s governors have also proclaimed June as Great Outdoors Month in their home states. The state proclamations differ in length and emphasis, but most praise volunteerism, environmental stewardship, and outdoor recreation as a means to happier, healthier lifestyles. Here are some of the highlights of the 2009 proclamations:

  • “Great Outdoors Month is an opportunity to celebrate and experience America’s splendor and renew our commitment to conserve our air, water, and land.”

    Alabama Governor Bob Riley

  • “Through biking, sport fishing, boating, hiking, and many other activities, Alaskans are enjoying our state’s magnificent scenery and the healthy benefits of outdoor recreation.”

    Alaska Governor Sarah Palin

  • “Our citizens play an important role in protecting our natural areas and during this month, we honor the men and women who volunteer to help protect our environment.”

    Arizona Governor Janice Brewer

  • “[Arkansas] provides an abundance of outdoor recreational and educational opportunities, endless adventures, and subsequent quality-of-life rewards and health benefits.”

    Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe

  • “By participating in outdoor activities, we can improve our physical fitness and well-being, strengthen relationships with others, build self-esteem and have fun. . . . .spending time outdoors encourages a deeper appreciation of our landscape.”

    California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

  • “The State of Colorado encourages its citizens and visitors to take advantage of the beauty and cleanliness of our state by participating in outdoor activities and leading healthier, fuller lives.”

    Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, Jr.

  • “As acknowledged in the No Child Left Inside Initiative in the State of Connecticut, June is the perfect month to spend time outdoors and appreciate the natural beauty we are lucky to live in.”

    Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell

  • Outdoor recreation is vital to Delaware’s economy, as well as to the health and wellness of its residents.”

    Delaware Governor Jack A. Markell

  • The District of Columbia strives to be a leader in green initiatives to protect the environment, reduce energy consumption, enhance air quality, clean rivers and streams, [and] nurture thriving urban parks and wildlife habitat.”

    District of Columbia Mayor Adrian M. Fenty

  • “Great Outdoors Month will encourage cooperative conservation and new technologies to help ensure America’s outdoors remain places where families and friends can learn, exercise, and create meaningful memories.”

    Florida Governor Charlie Crist

  • “Georgia’s Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan for 2008-2013 includes strategic priorities to promote fitness and livability in all Georgia communities, to enhance Georgia’s economic viability through the social, environmental and economic benefits of outdoor recreation and to address the need for conservation and proper use of Georgia’s natural resources.”

    Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue

  • “Our residents live amid many wonders of nature from the slopes of Mauna Kea to the cliffs of Moloka’I and countless other parks, forests and beaches. By spending time outdoors, we celebrate the magnificent landscapes that surround us.”

    Hawai’i Governor Linda Lingle

  • “Idaho is committed to finding solutions to reverse the ‘nature deficit’ trend in Idaho by reconnecting children to the great outdoors through outdoor youth programming, opportunities for recreation on public lands and environmental and natural resource education.”

    Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter

  • “Experiencing Illinois’ natural splendor contributes to happier and healthier lives for our citizens and a deeper appreciation for the great outdoors.”

    Illinois Governor Pat Quinn

  • “Through biking, sport fishing, boating, hiking, and many other activities, Hoosiers are enjoying the magnificent scenery and the healthy benefits of outdoor recreation in the State of Indiana.”

    Indiana Governor Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr.

  • Getting Outdoors promotes good health for both the body and mind, helps create memorable experiences with family and friends and consequently fosters a deeper appreciation of our resources.” Iowa

    Governor Chester J. Culver

  • "Outdoor recreation is an ideal way to exercise and enjoy memorable experiences with family and friends."

    Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson

  • “The Commonwealth advocates embracing the great outdoors and engaging in outdoor activities that strengthen both heart and mind.”

    Kentucky Governor Steven L. Beshear

  • Citizens throughout our state are volunteering in their communities for environmental education programs, local parks, nature conservancies, and other stewardship opportunities, in effort to preserve and promote our state’s abundant natural resources.”

    Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal

  • “In Maine and throughout this country, the number of overweight children is on the rise, and the State of Maine’s ‘Take It Outside’ initiative encourages parents to take their children outside and experience their own backyards and Maine’s many treasures in the great outdoors.”

    Maine Governor John E. Baldacci

  • “This is a reminder to all Marylanders to not only get outside, enjoy our parks, our forests and waterways, but take some time to share Maryland’s natural treasures with your children and families.”

    Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley

  • June marks the beginning of the summer recreation and vacation season, it is important that all citizens are reminded of our shared responsibility to protect, enhance and utilize, responsibly and sustainably, the natural resources of the Commonwealth for present and future generations.”

    Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick

  • Great Outdoors Month is an opportunity to renew our commitment to conserving air, water and land so that generations to come will have the opportunity to enjoy Michigan’s outdoor splendor.”

    Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm

  • As the ‘Land of 10,000 Lakes,’….Minnesotans show dedication to environmental stewardship by volunteering in local parks, participating in environmental education programs, maintaining park trails and campgrounds, and restoring wildlife habitats.”

    Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty

  • "Outdoor recreation promotes health, fitness, and environmental awareness."

    Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour

  • “During Great Outdoors Month, we honor and recognize the dedicated men and women who volunteer to help protect our natural resources.”

    Missouri Governor Jeremiah W. Jay Nixon

  • “As a father, I am proud to have the opportunity to share my love for hunting, fishing, and camping with my children.”

    Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer

  • “I encourage all Americans to demonstrate good stewardship and an appreciation for the outdoors.”

    Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman

  • “By encouraging residents and tourists to go outdoors we encourage a more active and healthy lifestyle, improve mental and physical health, reduce substance abuse and enhance the economy of the State.”

    Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons

  • “Countless citizens volunteer their time and talents to protect America’s natural resources and by working together with the private and non- profit sectors and the general public, we can help preserve our local parks, lakes, river, and working lands.”

    New Hampshire Governor John H. Lynch

  • Spending time outdoors provides countless opportunities for families and friends to get together, learn, engage in healthy activities, and participate in many recreational, community-oriented and leisure pursuits.”

    New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson

  • “New York State joins in support of Great Outdoor Month and its goals that are of vital interest to our citizens, recognizing that our precious natural heritage opens up a world of exciting possibilities for outdoor experiences.”

    New York Governor David A. Paterson

  • “[North Carolina] has hereby proclaimed June 2009, as “Great Outdoors Month” [and has] this month proclaimed June 6, 2009 as National Trails Day because of the many health, quality-of-life and economic benefits trails provide.”

    North Carolina Governor Beverly Eaves Perdue

  • “It is important to maintain and enhance our legacy of environmental stewardship and enjoyment of the great outdoors by introducing children to nature.”

    North Dakota Governor John Hoeven

  • Recreation is a valuable means for education to reach America’s youth with the message that outdoor recreation is a fun, healthy use of leisure time.”

    Oregon Governor Theodore R. Kulongoski

  • “Great Outdoors Month is a significant opportunity to help reconnect our children to nature and reverse the troubling nationwide trends of children spending half as much time outside as they did 20 years ago and spending six and a half hours each day ‘plugged into’ electronic media.”

    Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell

  • “The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and numerous partners are launching the Rhode Island Great Outdoors Pursuit in an effort to reconnect children and their families with the great outdoors.”

    Rhode Island Governor Donald L. Carcieri

  • “Great Outdoors is held annually to highlight the numerous benefits of active fun outdoors and the magnificent shared resources of our parks, forests, refuges and other public lands and waters.”

    South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford

  • “For the first time in our country’s history, we potentially have an entire generation growing up disconnected from nature, which makes outdoor recreation awareness especially important for our children.”

    South Dakota Governor M. Michael Rounds

  • “At this time, I encourage everyone to explore the great outdoors of Texas.”

    Texas Governor Rick Perry

  • Outdoor recreation is enjoyed by nearly everyone and plays an important role in providing numerous mental, physical, economic, and social benefits.”

    Utah Governor Jon M. Huntsman

  • America is blessed with places of natural beauty where citizens can discover the full splendor of this great nation. . . Great Outdoors Month is an opportunity to recognize and celebrate.”

    Vermont Governor James H. Douglas

  • “The Commonwealth of Virginia is committed to conserving open space as well as pursuing environmentally responsible initiatives.”

    Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine

  • "Outdoor recreation is an ideal way to exercise and enjoy memorable experiences with family and friends."

    Washington Governor Christine O. Gregoire

  • “The mission of this month is to promote healthier lifestyles to combat obesity, volunteerism to strengthen our communities and our shared legacy of parks and forests, protection of our environment and enjoyment of the great outdoors.”

    West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin III

  • “Playing and exploring outdoors gives children and their families time to connect with nature, engage in exercise and healthy activities, and have fun.”

    Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle

  • “Great Outdoors Month is an opportunity to honor those who work to keep our natural places beautiful and to celebrate some of our country’s favorite outdoor pastimes, encouraging a healthy lifestyle and giving Americans pride in the great American landscape.”

    Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal

The initiative to get America’s governors to speak out about outdoor recreation was led by the American Recreation Coalition (ARC), the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD), the National Wildlife Federation and the National Recreation and Park Association. More state proclamations are expected throughout the month of June. Proclamations can be read and downloaded at www.funoutdoors.com.

“We are delighted that President Obama has embraced recreation and the Great Outdoors as key tools in his efforts to promote national service, health and strengthening our sense of unity,” said ARC President Derrick Crandall. Crandall noted that in coordination with the issuance of the proclamation, the Obama Administration has announced fee-free weekends in national parks for the summer of 2009, an expansion of youth employment opportunities through conservation corps and a new Outdoor Youth Mentoring Program.

NASPD Executive Director Phil McKnelly praised the actions of the governors, noting, “We are pleased to see Governors from all across the country proclaiming June as Great Outdoors Month. Getting our citizens outdoors and active is particularly important at this time in our history when our population is overweight and under a great deal of stress because of the economic situation. It is more important now than ever before for our citizens to have places close to home for inexpensive opportunities to take a walk in the woods and leave the stress of their daily lives behind for a while. America’s state parks provide those opportunities and welcome the proclamations from President Obama and our nation's governors."

Copies of the proclamations will be on display at Great Outdoors Week events in Washington, D.C., as well as at key National Get Outdoors Day sites on June 13 (www.go-day.org).