RELEASE: Outdoors Alliance for Kids, Forest Service Partner to Get Children and Youth Outside

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 8, 2015

Contact: Virginia Cramer, 804-519-8449, Virginia.Cramer@sierraclub.org

Forest Service Press Office, 202-205-1134, pressoffice@fs.fed.us

Outdoors Alliance for Kids, Forest Service Partner to Get Children and Youth Outside

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) joined Forest Service Chief Thomas L. Tidwell to announce a new partnership to increase opportunities for children, youth and families to learn about, recreate and explore the natural world on our public lands and waters.

The partnership will seek to create new outdoor play and recreation opportunities for millions of young people; provide new or enhanced educational programs for grades K-12; expand service and volunteer programs; provide youth employment and training programs; and implement the National Prevention Strategy for improving health and well-being developed by the National Prevention Council.

“As America’s urban areas continue to grow, access to the outdoors and nature-based activities is becoming more important to our nation’s well-being”, said Tidwell. “Through this partnership, we have another avenue to act on our long-standing commitment to connect all youth to the outdoors.”

“OAK is excited to join the Forest Service in encouraging kids to have fun and get active while discovering the forest,” said OAK Co-Founder and Chair Jackie Ostfeld of the Sierra Club. “Too many of today’s children and youth are growing up indoors. Through this partnership we can provide them a chance to experience the joy of the outdoors.”

“OAK and the Forest Service are natural allies in the growing movement to connect more young people to the outdoors,” said OAK Vice Chair Paul Sanford of The Wilderness Society. “The national forests provide some of the best close-to-home outdoor recreation, education and service opportunities in America, and together our programs connect thousands of young people with National Forest lands each year. OAK is thrilled to partner with the Forest Service to expand these opportunities and develop the next generation of conservationists.”

OAK and the Forest Service will advance shared goals by collaborating to support President Obama’s Every Kid in a Park initiative to connect 4th graders with public lands and waters and the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps to increase volunteer and work opportunities for youth and young veterans stewarding our public lands. The partners will also inventory key youth in the outdoors events and programs, develop a children and youth outdoors federal budget, and convene key partners to evaluate and advance major programs and initiatives related to connecting children and youth with the outdoors.

The General Agreement was signed by the Children & Nature Network, The Corps Network, Izaak Walton League of America, National Recreation and Park Association, National Wildlife Federation, REI, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society and the YMCA of the USA on behalf of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids.

In September, the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Reclamation signed a related agreement. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is in the process of finalizing a similar agreement as part of a holistic effort led by the Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation.

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About the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK)

OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in connecting children, youth and families with the outdoors. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the wellness of current and future generations, the health of our planet and communities and the economy of the future depend on humans having a personal, direct and life-long relationship with nature and the outdoors. OAK brings together more than eighty businesses and organizations including the American Heart Association, Children & Nature Network, Izaak Walton League of America, National Recreation and Park Association, National Wildlife Federation, The North Face, Public Lands Service Coalition (a program of The Corps Network), REI, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society and the YMCA of the USA to address the growing divide between children, youth and the natural world. For more information: www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org

About the Forest Service

The mission of the Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency also has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.