Panel Discusses Engaging State Policymakers with Outdoor Play for Next “Play Hour”

The Youth Outdoor Policy Playbook is a joint effort of the Children and Nature Network, the Meridian Institute, National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, Outdoor Alliance for Kids and North American Association of Environmental Education.

Join us Friday, April 24, 10:30am EDT/7:30am PDT for “Engaging State Policymakers with Outdoor Play: Youth Outdoor Policy Playbook.”

(Registered 2020 Online Play Conference attendees will receive Zoom details by email.)

With representatives of each organization (detailed below), this session will highlight the Youth Outdoor Policy Playbook, a tool to empower grassroots and grasstops leaders and educate state legislators on the value of outdoor engagement and play – with an aim to work together to pass legislation to give more youth and families more outdoor opportunities.

Panelists include:

Martin LeBlanc (moderator)
Martin LeBlanc is a strategic planning, public policy, and fundraising specialist with two decades of experience helping organizations expand their impact and Principal at LBC Action a Strategic Advisory Firm. He is co-founder and vice-president emeritus for the board of the Children & Nature Network. Martin is also a member of the US Play Coalition’s steering committee.

Robyn Paulekas, Meridian Institute
Robyn Paulekas is a Senior Mediator and Program Manager in Meridian’s Dillon, CO office. She has led and supported both domestic and international projects on water, conservation, outdoor recreation, agriculture, and climate change—often working at the nexus of more than one of these issues.  Robyn has extensive experience finding and catalyzing collaborative solutions.

Sarah Bodor, North American Association of Environmental Education
NAAEE’s Director of Policy & Affiliate Relations, Sarah Bodor comes from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, where she worked closely with state education agencies in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia to develop and pilot standards-based curricula and provide teacher professional development.  From 2008-2012, Sarah coordinated the national No Child Left Inside grassroots coalition and in 2008, she served as the writer of Maryland’s Children in Nature Plan, which resulted in passage of Maryland’s environmental high school graduation requirement.

Dylan McDowell, National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL)
Dylan McDowell serves as the Deputy Director for NCEL. Dylan is a science communicator with a passion for environmental issues. He specializes in making complex science accessible for a general audience, and his background includes developing education and outreach programs for the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and the Hatfield Marine Science Center. He is an active science writer and regularly contributes to Oregon Sea Grant publications.

Jayni Rasmussen, Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK)
Jayni is a Senior Campaign Manager for the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) & Youth for the Sierra Club. Previously, she served as NRPA’s Advocacy and Outreach Manager, where she designed, implemented and managed the Park Champion initiative, a national grassroots advocacy program training park and recreation professionals and park advocates to invite their members of Congress to see their parks and programs first-hand at site visits and events.

James E. King Jr.
James E. King Jr., MAED is an African American researcher, environmental activist, and cultural responsiveness facilitator based in Seattle, Washington originally from Atlanta, Georgia. He currently works on multiple projects, facilitating the growth of awareness within multicultural environmental education alongside conferences, industries, communities, schools and now the filming industry. He calls it J.E.D.I. Training. Outside of his work you can find James outdoors connecting to nature with family and friends.



“Play Hour” is a series of LIVE Zoom sessions every Monday and Friday in April at 10:30am EDT/7:30am PDT as part of the 2020 ONLINE Conference on the Value of Play.  All “Play Hour” LIVE Zoom presentations will be recorded and included in our online conference launch on May 1, so don’t fret if you miss any!

The Conference on the VALUE of Play
The Play Conference, as it is commonly known, is an annual educational conference presented by the US Play Coalition. The latest research and practices in the field of play are presented at the conference, which brings together play researchers, park and recreation professionals, educators, health scientists, architects, landscape architects, designers, planners, business and community leaders, psychologists, physicians and parents from across the U.S. and beyond. The three day event has been moved ONLINE for 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  It is our first-ever online Play Conference!