Lifelong lessons and care for Minnesota’s tremendous outdoor heritage start with quality time outdoors.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is offering a new grant program, called “No Child Left Inside,” to help more children cast a fishing line, study animal tracks, hike, bike or simply learn more about nature.

Funded by the 2019 Minnesota Legislature, these DNR grants are provided for outdoor environmental, ecological and other natural-resource-based education and recreation programs serving youth. The program aims to support and increase efforts to expand programming that connects youth to the outdoors.

Recent and emerging research indicates that students are increasingly disconnected from nature. Getting more people into the outdoors is crucial for the future stewardship of Minnesota's natural resources, according to a DNR news release.

The new grant program will have multiple phases.

Phase 1 mini grants program opens in October 2019. It consists of a mini grant program with a short timeline, simple application, quick review and a total of $182,000 available to fund grants of $500 to $5,000.

Future “No Child Left Inside” grant program phases will be announced later and include larger grant awards up to $49,999 with a more extensive application process and longer project time frames.

Public entities and nonprofit organizations serving youth under age 18 are eligible to apply starting at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 23.

For information on the grant program and a link to the application, visit the DNR website.