BALTIMORE, MD-– Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer, and Deputy Commanding General of the US Army Corps of Engineers Maj. Gen. Don T. Riley today announced a "Get Outdoors, It's Yours!" campaign to reconnect children with nature.
The event, held at the start of the National Recreation and Park Association Congress and Exposition at the Hilton Baltimore, was hosted by NRPA's Board of Trustees Chair Lois Finkelman, President Linda Kotowski, and Chief Executive Officer Barbara Tulipane.
The new campaign, described at the website www.getoutdoorsitsyours.gov, encourages children and their educators and families to experience nature firsthand. Federal leaders from eight agencies and bureaus said that "Get Outdoors, It's Yours!" will provide more information for America's young people about opportunities to get outdoors on our national parks, forests, refuges, other public lands and waterways.
"We greatly appreciate this forum provided by NRPA because there is a crisis in America in which our kids are increasingly disconnected from nature," said Secretary Kempthorne. "We must get children off the couch and outdoors. We must get them to turn off the computers and televisions and turn on to the power of wild places and wild creatures to lift them up - to rejuvenate body, soul and spirit."
"We want every child in America to experience the great outdoors, whether it is in a remote mountain wilderness or a city park," said Secretary Schafer. "Children react positively to nature. Working together, the federal agencies can help families foster their curiosity about nature and develop a deeper appreciation of precious natural resources."
The "Get Outdoors, It's Yours!" initiative, supported by an interagency Pledge of Cooperation, will unite federal land opportunities under one comprehensive platform and encourage the participation of non-profit land partners to develop a seamless portal for information on destinations, programs, special events, and opportunities for educational adventures throughout the year.
The group will promote, and in some cases expand upon, the vast resources and programs that already exist within the Federal land management agencies including the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
NRPA and other national nonprofit groups pledged to support the campaign today. The groups include American Forests, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the City Park Alliance, the National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials, the National Association of State Outdoor Recreation, the National Association of State Park Directors, the National Parks Conservation Association and the National Wildlife Federation.
"Through the spirit of partnerships, collectively we are poised to greatly impact the lives of children and teens. By re-engaging youth in nature, recreation, and play, we've helped the next generation discover the rewards of more fulfilling, healthy lifestyles," said NRPA CEO Tulipane.
"The greatest benefit of this initiative is to foster a love of America's lands and waters in today's youth because they will be tomorrow's caretakers of this nation's cultural and natural resources," said Maj. Gen. Riley. "That love will grow into awareness of the health and environmental benefits associated with those personal connections with nature."
For more information on the new program, go to www.getoutdoorsitsyours.gov. The website provides lists of places for all sorts of outdoor activities from biking to wildlife viewing, links to agency websites for youth, games and other useful materials.