Tag Archives: conservation

The 21st Century Conservation Service Corps: The Future for Public Lands

guest blog by Brandon Nguyen, Sierra Club intern, Summer 2016

Earlier this summer, the First Family visited Yosemite National Park to celebrate Father’s Day and the 100th anniversary of the National Park System in the great outdoors. Standing in a picturesque scene, with the natural legacy of Half-Dome towering several thousand feet overhead, President Obama spoke to a crowd on the importance of our outdoor areas and their unifying qualities.

“The beauty of the National Park System is it belongs to everybody. It is a true expression of our democracy: the notion that we all look after ourselves and our families, and we work hard and we make money, and we have our own homes and apartments, cars and televisions; but then there’s this part of us that is a part of everybody, something we have in common, something we share, a place where we connect with each other, and to connect with something bigger than ourselves.”

Just three days before the president’s speech, I sat in a briefing on Capitol Hill hosted by the Partnership for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC). The 21CSC is an initiative committed to increasing the number of youth and veterans engaged in protecting, restoring, and enhancing America’s great outdoors through civilian national service. The initiative simultaneously addresses the $11 billion maintenance backlog of our public lands, connects youth to the healing power of nature, and helps veterans reintegrate into society.

The amazing thing about the 21CSC is that it unites so many different people and organizations towards a common goal. Throughout the country, there are over 190 member organization of the 21CSC that give local undeserved youth and veterans the opportunity to develop professional skills while engaging in environmental stewardship projects, such as preventing wildfires and constructing hiking trails.These environmental service projects are completed through partnerships between 21CSC organizations and local, state, and federal land and water management agencies. Outside of the 21CSC are dozens of organizations, corporations, and private businesses that support the initiative. These supporters include REI, KEEN Footwear, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, and other groups that recognize the significance of the 21CSC for our parks and the outdoor industry. And finally, with the 21CSC Act (S.1993, H.R. 5114) we find bipartisan support; it was introduced in the Senate in August 2015 by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), and in the House of Representatives in April 2016 by Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA).

Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, June, 2016. Photo Credit - The Corps NetworkVermont Youth Conservation Corps, June, 2016 (Photo Credit: The Corps Network)

The 21CSC was originally started during the Obama administration under Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and has grown significantly under Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s leadership. It serves as a modern expansion on President Franklin Roosevelt’s public work relief program, the Civilian Conservation Corps. The national partnership for the 21CSC is working to reach 100,000 new corps members every year by 2018! The Outdoors Alliance for Kids and the  Sierra Club support the initiative to get all kids outdoors learning and active on our public lands.

In June, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands held a legislative hearing on the 21CSC Act, alongside its companion legislation the Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2015. Members of the committee praised these pieces of legislation that aim to provide skills and job opportunities for youth and young veterans. The 190+ member organizations of the Partnership for a 21CSC draw their participants from a diverse pool to develop a new workforce for the future of our lands and waters. Service opportunities are extended to veterans up to the age of 35, especially those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Young people, ranging from 15 to 25 year olds, from non-profit organizations to tribal governments, are also given opportunities to serve and develop their professional work skills.

In the spirit of 21CSC’s work, and to quote President Obama again:“What an incredible idea! What a worthy investment! What a precious thing we have to pass on to the next generation! Let’s make that happen.”

To learn more, visit the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps website and join the Sign-On Letter in Support of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act.

 

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.

 

RELEASE: OAK Praises Secretary Jewell’s initiative to get youth outdoors in 50 cities

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 12, 2015

Contact: Jackie Ostfeld; jackie.ostfeld@sierraclub.org; 202-548-6584

OAK Praises Secretary Jewell’s initiative to get youth outdoors in 50 cities

Washington, DC –Today, in New York City Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced a commitment from American Express that will support a new initiative with YMCA of the USA to connect young people with the outdoors in fifty cities across America. The effort is part of the Secretary’s initiative to connect millions of children and youth with opportunities to play, learn, serve and work in the outdoors.

In response to Secretary Jewell’s announcement, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids issued the following statement:

“The Outdoors Alliance for Kids is honored to support this new effort to increase volunteerism among our youth on America’s public lands. Opportunities to engage young people in outdoor service opportunities, like those proposed today, help the next generation of leaders assume responsibility for the stewardship and preservation of America’s great outdoors.

The Y is an excellent choice for helping Secretary Jewell to realize her vision to increase engagement on public lands in and around cities across America. The YMCA of the USA is one of OAK’s founding steering committee members, and has been a steadfast champion for improving the health and wellness of children across this nation through opportunities to get outdoors. The Outdoors Alliance for Kids looks forward to working with the administration and YMCA of the USA to realize this bold vision for America’s children and youth.”

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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 seventy 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

jewellwithkidsInterior Secretary Sally Jewell with Y kids at OAK’s Youth Event on the National Mall, Washington, DC

Time to Create an ECHO Across America: Every Child Healthy Outdoors

guest blog by Sierra Club Nearby Nature Director and OAK Chair Jackie Ostfeld

originally published in the Huffington Post

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has just released the 2014 State Indicator Report on Physical Activity, and it’s bleak. The state by state analysis is a stark reminder that most kids in America are not getting enough physical activity.

According to the report, only 27.1 percent of youth in the United States are meeting the national physical aerobic activity guidelines, which call for 60 minutes of moderate- or vigorous-intensity physical activity daily. In some states, like Texas, less than one-fifth of young people are meeting these guidelines.

Unfortunately, these numbers are less surprising when coupled with the fact that most Americans simply do not live within walking distance of a park. According to the state by state report, only 39.2 percent of the U.S. population lives within a half mile of a park. If you want to see how your city fares on park access, look no further than the Trust for Public Land’s Park Score, which ranks cities on park acreage, access, investments and other metrics. The proximity and safety of parks are increasingly being recognized as a contributing factor to the overall health of a community, yet many of our children don’t have basic neighborhood access.

It’s not all bad news. The CDC’s report also found that when you combine parks, community centers and sidewalks, 54.5 percent of youth have neighborhood access to safe places for physical activity. While I, find that number to be woefully inadequate, it is a slight improvement over the CDC’s 2010 findings that only 50 percent of youth had neighborhood-level access to physical activity opportunities.

The report also took a look at the school and child care environments and found that several states are beginning to provide policy guidance to enhance physical education and activity. For example, 30 states have provided policy guidance on recess, and 34 have provided guidance on walking and biking to school. Twenty-seven states have adopted some form of complete streets policy, designed to make walking and biking safer and easier.

While progress may be being made in some areas, there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that all kids and youth are meeting the daily physical activity guidelines, and perhaps even more work to be done to ensure that getting outdoors is a part of that daily routine.

That is why my colleagues and I at the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) created the Every Child Healthy Outdoors (ECHO) Across America Toolkit. OAK is a national strategic partnership of over 70 businesses and organizations from diverse sectors with a common goal to connect children, youth and families with the outdoors. The ECHO Across America Toolkit was designed by a broad set of OAK members and includes major contributions from the YMCA of the USA, National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, Children & Nature Network, Conservation Legacy, the Public Lands Service Coalition, and the Alliance for Childhood, among others.

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ECHO Across America provides state and local groups the tools needed to develop strong and diverse alliances and a plan to get kids and youth outdoors. The Toolkit includes resources for organizing a meeting of non-profit, community, business, and government leaders in a state or city to conduct an assessment of existing policies and initiatives. ECHO also helps alliances set policy goals for getting kids and families outdoors and provides advocacy resources for engaging governors and mayors to advance those goals. The Toolkit takes a multi-sector approach that includes strategies in education, health, transportation, the built environment, conservation and environmental stewardship.

At the national level, Senator Mark Udall of Colorado and Congressman Ron Kind of Wisconsin have introduced legislation that complements the ECHO Across America strategy. The Healthy Kids Outdoors Act is one of several pieces of legislation aimed at improving kids’ access to nature and the outdoors. The bill would provide incentives for states to develop multi-sector plans, similar to those recommended in OAK’s ECHO Across America Toolkit, to ensure that kids and families have opportunities and encouragement to get outdoors. The bill has broad support from OAK members.

There is still a long way to go to ensure that every child has opportunities to get healthy outdoors and we could use your help. If you represent a business or a non-profit organization that believes all children and youth should have opportunities to get outdoors, consider joining the Outdoors Alliance for Kids. Download OAK’s ECHO Across America Toolkit and see how you can advance Every Child Healthy Outdoors strategies, today.

Looking for some simpler ways to get involved? Start by letting your member of Congress know that you support the Healthy Kids Outdoors Act. Next, take a kid outdoors! Then, make known your efforts and ideas to engage more young people in the outdoors by blogging, writing a letter to the editor of your local paper, or sharing them in the comments below and on OAK’s Facebook page. Collectively, we can create an ECHO Across America!

RELEASE: White House Honors “Champions of Change” for connecting youth with the outdoors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

March 17, 2014

Contacts: Jackie Ostfeld, Sierra Club – 202-821-8877; jackie.ostfeld@sierraclub.org; Paul Sanford, The Wilderness Society – 202-429-2616; paul_sanford@tws.org

White House Honors “Champions of Change” for connecting youth with the outdoors

Several OAK members to receive award

Washington, DC — Tomorrow, fourteen Champions of Change will be honored at the White House for their efforts to engage the next generation of conservationists through outdoor recreation and physical activity. The honorees are helping to fulfill Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s youth initiative by ensuring that young people and communities have opportunities to play, learn, serve and work outdoors. Several champions are members of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK).

“Thank you to the White House and Secretary Jewell for raising the voices of these exemplary change agents who are bridging the gap between young people and the outdoors,” says OAK’s co-founder and chair, Jackie Ostfeld. “Kudos to all the champs who are setting young people on a course to improve their health and well-being, establish lifelong connections with nature, and lead tomorrow’s conservation movement.”

Many of today’s champions are members of OAK:

Anthony Ciocco, of the Mvskoke tribe, is a Crew Leader for the Ancestral Lands Program at the Southwest Conservation Corps, a program of Conservation Legacy, leading ecological restoration crews on the Navajo Nation. Under Anthony’s leadership, crews of local Native youth work to rebuild damaged ecosystems and build trails to provide access to the outdoors for local communities.

Dr. Benjamin Blonder, co-founded the University of Arizona’s Sky School, a residential science school that provides inquiry-based environmental education on a campus located in the heart of the Coronado National Forest. Because of his efforts, each year hundreds of K-12 students, primarily from Title I schools, are now able to conduct independent research while exploring the unique ecology, geology, and astronomy resources of the region. Benjamin’s vision for the Sky School was inspired by his AmeriCorps service in central Idaho at the McCall Outdoor Science School, a NSF-supported teaching fellowship in a Tucson public school, and his long-term volunteer leadership with the Sierra Club’s Inner City Outings program, which provides opportunities for urban youth to experience nature.

Bill Hodge is the Director of the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards, or “SAWS,” a project of The Wilderness Society. SAWS engages high school and college students in on-the-ground public lands stewardship projects in the National Forests of Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina. Through these programs, SAWS engages young people in active volunteerism and helps to develop the next generation of public lands stewards.

Jon Brito served three AmeriCorps terms with Kupu’s Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps from 2008 to 2013, as a team member, team leader, and a year-long intern. During these terms, Jon engaged local youth and community members on the rural island of Moloka’i in critical environmental community service and indigenous cultural practices. Jon’s commitment to serving the island’s land and people has helped protect and restore countless endangered native Hawaiian species and habitats, perpetuate native Hawaiian knowledge and culture, and has inspired other local youth and community members to take an active part in the conservation movement on Molokai.

Na’Taki Osborne Jelks is a nationally-recognized leader in engaging urban communities and youth of color in environmental stewardship. In 2001, Na’Taki co-founded the Atlanta Earth Tomorrow® Program, National Wildlife Federation’s multi-cultural, youth environmental education and leadership development program that engages urban youth in investigating causes of environmental challenges, helps them connect to nature, fosters their leadership of youth-led community action projects, promotes civic engagement, and nurtures leadership skills for building personal environmental stewardship. The Program has reached over 2,500 youth and was selected as a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps member organization. Na’Taki is also a Board Chairperson of the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance (WAWA), a community-based organization that launched the Atlanta Children’s Forest Network (ACFN) in partnership with the USDA Forest Service and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Pam Hess is the Director of Youth Engagement and leads the Outdoors Rx Program at the Boston-based Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC). Outdoor Rx is a collaborative partnership with the healthcare community to provide free, dedicated resources for prescribing regular outdoor physical activity to youth, especially underserved individuals. AMC helps families “fill” these prescriptions by providing free, guided outdoor programming in their communities several times a week.

Dr. Stephen Lockhart is a Vice President and Regional Chief Medical Officer for Sutter Health in California. He has served on NatureBridge’s board of directors for 12 years, most recently as board chair. Under Stephen’s leadership, NatureBridge provides transformational environmental science programs in national parks to more than 30,000 children and teens each year. With NatureBridge, and as a board member of REI, NPS Second Century Commission and National Parks Conservation Association, Stephen advances his passion of connecting diverse young people to our national parks.

Watch the event live on Wednesday, March 18th from 9:00am to 12:00pm ET at www.whitehouse.gov/live.

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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 expanding opportunities for children, youth and families to connect with the outdoors. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the health and well-being 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 sixty national organizations including the American Heart Association, Children & Nature Network, Izaak Walton League of America, National Association of State Park Directors, National Recreation and Park Association, National Wildlife Federation, The North Face, the Outdoor Foundation, 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.

Find out more on our website: www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org

RELEASE: The Public Lands Service Coalition joins steering committee of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

January 9, 2014

Contacts: Jackie Ostfeld; 202-548-6584; Jackie.Ostfeld@sierraclub.org; Joe Gersen; 202-737-6272; jgersen@corpsnetwork.org

The Public Lands Service Coalition joins steering committee of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids

Washington, DC– The Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) today announced that The Corps Network’s Public Lands Service Coalition has joined the national partnership to connect children, youth and families with the outdoors. With the addition of one of the strongest voices for youth service to OAK’s steering committee, the alliance will work to advance one of its key goals to expand environmental stewardship opportunities for young people.

“The member organizations of the Public Lands Service Coalition (PLSC), which include conservation corps programs as well as conservation corps supporters, are excited and honored to be counted among this cadre of powerful voices for youth and environmental wellness. We have been working in tandem with OAK on addressing the alliance’s key issues.  Additionally we have received great support from OAK on the establishment of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps.” says Joe Gersen, Director of Government Relations for the PLSC.

“The PLSC has been one of the organizations leading the development of the 21CSC since 2010 and it continues to provide leadership through the Partnership for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (P-21CSC).” said Eugenie Bostrom, Director of  Strategic Partnerships and Communications at Southwest Conservation Corps.

OAK is concerned about the growing divide between children, youth, families, and the outdoors. For many young people, spending time outdoors isn’t always easy or safe. Today’s youth spend 50 percent less time outdoors in natural settings than the generation that preceded them. Park and play deserts, a lack of transportation, stranger danger, safety, and overscheduled kids and adults are all factors contributing to the indoor and increasingly sedentary lifestyles of many kids and families. Physical inactivity is a factor in the rising rates in children of type II diabetes, poor cardiovascular health, and childhood obesity.

OAK is working to reverse this trend by advancing environmental education, community health and wellness, and environmental stewardship initiatives for children and youth. Environmental stewardship opportunities like those supported by the Public Lands Service Coalition provide young people with jobs, training, service and volunteer opportunities that connect them to the outdoors and help youth assume responsibility for the stewardship and preservation of America’s great outdoors and the healthy development of the next generation.

“OAK is honored to welcome the Public Lands Service Coalition onto its steering committee,” says Jackie Ostfeld, Chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids. “Environmental stewardship opportunities like those provided by the members of the Public Lands Service Coalition are important for engaging older youth in meaningful outdoor activities that build their leadership and job skills, improve their health and wellness, and connect them with America’s great outdoors.”

The PLSC promotes youth service jobs and career development on public and tribal lands and waters. Each year, Coalition members engage more than 17,000 young people in jobs and service opportunities, and they are poised to expand to address record-high youth unemployment, billions of dollars of backlogged maintenance needs on public lands, and the disengagement of youth from the outdoors. The Public Lands Service Coalition is a program of The Corps Network, the national association of service and conservation corps. For more information visit The Corps Network website at www.corpsnetwork.org.

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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 expanding opportunities for children, youth and families to connect with the outdoors. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the well-being 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 sixty national organizations including the American Heart Association, Children & Nature Network, Izaak Walton League of America, National Association of State Park Directors, National Recreation and Park Association, National Wildlife Federation, The North Face, the Outdoor Foundation, 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.

Find out more on our website: www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org

RELEASE: Members of Outdoors Alliance for Kids Applaud Secretary Sally Jewell for Announcement on Youth and the Outdoors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 8, 2014

Contact: Jackie Ostfeld, 202-548-6584, Jackie.Ostfeld@sierraclub.org

Members of Outdoors Alliance for Kids Applaud Secretary Sally Jewell for Announcement on Youth and the Outdoors

Washington, DC – This morning, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell joined American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. and the US Department of Agriculture to announce a major private sector investment of $1 million to put young people to work on our public lands through the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps. Members of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) braved the record cold temperatures to join the Secretary by the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial on the National Mall.

“OAK applauds and shares the Secretary’s vision to inspire millions of young people to play, learn, serve and work outdoors,” says Jackie Ostfeld, Chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids. “We look forward to working with Secretary Jewell to advance the goals of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps and other programs to provide opportunities for young people to get outdoors across America.”

Initiatives that provide young people with jobs, training, service and volunteer opportunities, like the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps, empower youth to assume responsibility for the stewardship and preservation of America’s great outdoors and the healthy development of the next generation. The Corps will teach youth basic job skills at a time when youth unemployment is near record levels and young people are missing out on critical early job experiences. In addition, 21st Century Conservation Service Corps programs will improve public health by helping young people develop and maintain active lifestyles. Corps projects connect youth to the outdoors in a fun, educational, and engaging manner, increasing the likelihood they will live active lives that will improve their health and enhance their quality of life.

Today, OAK members sent a letter to the White House urging President Obama to support and prioritize the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps.

Statements from OAK Member CEOs

“The Sierra Club commends Secretary Jewell on her commitment to connecting youth to the outdoors. We’re pleased to see new support for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. “I am also proud to announce that the Sierra Club has just become an official national partner with the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps. Together we will work to reach 100,000 new service corps members a year by 2018 and educate corps members about conservation. In a world where many young people have never had the opportunity to explore and enjoy the natural world, the Corps is a valuable tool for connecting youth to our public lands and opening up a new generation to the value of conservation.”

“Conservation corps provide thousands of jobs and training opportunities for young people, complete high quality conservation project work, and develop a new generation of healthy, work-ready young people who are invested in the stewardship of America’s public lands and waters,” said Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society. “The support for 21CSC offered by American Eagle Outfitters is an inspiring act of corporate citizenship. We encourage other businesses to show a similar vision and commitment to stewardship of these lands.”

“The cadre of conservation corps around the country have a strong record of engaging America’s young people in preserving our public and tribal lands, waterways and cultural heritage sites. This outstanding show of support for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps exemplifies Secretary Jewel’s commitment to the land that she now oversees and to future generations of Americans,” said Harry Bruell, Co-Chair of the Public Lands Service Coalition and CEO of Conservation Legacy (formerly the Southwest Conservation Corps).

“We are very pleased that American Eagle Outfitters and Secretary Jewell have made such a big commitment to putting young Americans and veterans to work on our public lands, so that they can preserve, protect, and promote some of America’s great national treasures. We hope this is the first of many commitments that boost America’s next great generation of conservation and community leaders,” said Mary Ellen Ardouny, President & CEO of The Corps Network.

“IslandWood applauds Secretary Jewell’s announcement on the Department of the Interior’s commitment to the 21st Century Service Conservation Corps and connecting the next generation of diverse youth to the outdoors, together through dynamic public-private partnerships,” said Ben Klasky, CEO of IslandWood.

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Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK): OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in expanding opportunities for children, youth and families to connect with the outdoors. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the well-being 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 sixty national organizations including the American Heart Association, Children & Nature Network, Izaak Walton League of America, National Association of State Park Directors, National Recreation and Park Association, National Wildlife Federation, The North Face, the Outdoor Foundation, 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. Find out more on our website: www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org

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RELEASE: Interior Secretary Jewell Ramps Up Efforts to Connect Youth with the Outdoors

Contacts:

Jackie Ostfeld, 202-821-8877, Jackie.Ostfeld@sierraclub.org

Paul Sanford, 202-429-2615, paul_sanford@tws.org

Interior Secretary Jewell Ramps Up Efforts to Connect Youth with the Outdoors

WASHINGTON, DC –Today, at the National Press Club, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell laid out her conservation agenda for the next four years. As part of that agenda, Secretary Jewell stressed the importance of engaging the next generation in understanding, stewarding and connecting with our public lands.

Statement of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids – OAK:

The Outdoors Alliance for Kids shares Secretary Jewell’s vision to inspire millions of young people to play, learn, serve and work outdoors. We applaud Secretary Jewell for reaffirming and scaling up the commitment of the Department of the Interior to engage young people with our public lands.

The Secretary’s ambitious plan will help connect kids and youth with the outdoors through environmental education, community health and wellness and environmental stewardship opportunities. Specifically, Secretary Jewell announced plans to do the following:

  • Provide educational opportunities to at least ten million K-12 students each year, thereby enhancing environmental education opportunities for young people across the country. Outdoor environmental education opportunities improve academic and practical skills and create a well-rounded education that all kids need to thrive.
  • Establish partnerships in 50 cities with a goal of creating outdoor play and recreation opportunities for ten million young people in the next five years. Physical inactivity is a major contributor to the childhood obesity crisis and these partnerships will increase opportunities for kids and families to get active in urban areas.
  • Ramp up the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps. Service Corps activities help youth assume responsibility for the stewardship and preservation of America’s great outdoors and the healthy development of the next generation.

The Outdoors Alliance for Kids looks forward to working with Secretary Jewell in the weeks, months and years ahead to fulfill this ambitious vision and ensure that more and more children, youth and families have opportunities to get outdoors in nature.

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 Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK): OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in expanding opportunities for children, youth and families to connect with the outdoors. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the well-being 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 sixty national organizations including the American Heart Association, Children & Nature Network, Izaak Walton League of America, National Association of State Park Directors, National Recreation and Park Association, National Wildlife Federation, The North Face, the Outdoor Foundation, REI, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, and the YMCA of the USA to address the growing divide between children and the natural world. Find out more on our website: www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org

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