Obama Administration to Hire 20,000 Young People for Summer Work on Public Lands

Vilsack, Salazar, Sutley Announce $3.7 Million in Competitive Grants for New or Expanded Youth Corps


Contact: DOI Communications Office: 202-208-6416

WASHINGTON, D.C. and SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS, CA – In response to President Obama’s call to expand opportunities for summer employment for young people and connect them with the great outdoors, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley today highlighted summer work opportunities for more than 20,000 young people, ages 15-25, in national forests, national parks, wildlife refuges and other public lands.

Salazar and Sutley are kicking off the summer work season at an event in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in California, where they are being joined by members of the Los Angeles Conservation Corps and the California Conservation Corps, representing the many corps partners working with USDA and DOI to provide summer work and training opportunities for young people.

On the East Coast, USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and the Environment Harris Sherman and U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell kicked off the season at an event celebrating volunteers and other partners who are critical to connecting Americans to the great outdoors. They were joined by representatives from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to announce, along with Salazar and Sutley, $3.7 million in competitive grants for 20 projects across the country that will put more than 500 young people from diverse backgrounds and experiences to work on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands and national forests and grasslands this summer work season.

This competitive grant initiative is being funded with $1.4 million from the BLM and the Forest Service, matched by $2.3 million raised by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation from private partners through the America’s Great Outdoors: Developing the Next Generation of Conservationists initiative.

“President Obama’s call to expand summer job opportunities for young people is helping us engage and train the next generation of natural resource professionals and build a workforce that represents all of America,” said Salazar, who is visiting a youth conservation corps that is conducting trail and habitat restoration in the Santa Monica Mountains. “These first experiences building trails, clearing out hazardous fuels, or cleaning up rivers not only equip young people with skills for a new career, but can also awaken a love for the outdoors that lasts a lifetime.” Since Secretary Salazar established youth employment as a high priority performance goal, Interior has employed 35% more young people each year since Fiscal Year 2009.

"This program is putting youth to work and making our nation's public lands more accessible," said Vilsack. "With 80 percent of our country now living in urban areas, it is through partnerships like these that we are finding opportunities for Americans to work, live and play on our forests and grasslands and experience America's Great outdoors."

“Through the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, the Obama Administration has made it a priority to support communities connecting American youth with the health, economic and recreational benefits of being outdoors,” Sutley said. “This summer jobs campaign will link youth with opportunities to gain valuable work experience, grow our economy, and protect and appreciate our extraordinary natural resources.”

The grants align with President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative to develop a 21st century conservation and recreation agenda. The projects were chosen because they have a connection to the 258 million acres managed by the BLM or the193 million acres of forests and grasslands managed by the Forest Service. Many of these projects target our underserved youth and populations.

“This public-private partnership will help bring young people from diverse backgrounds and urban areas to the public lands for meaningful employment opportunities, mentorships, and the joy of the great outdoors,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “This is a perfect example of how we can team up to help foster the next generation of conservationists.”

The 20 projects announced today are below. Additional details are available here.

Alaska, California, and Colorado:




Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee:

Kentucky and Indiana:




New Mexico:




* These three pilot projects were previous announced in December 2011 when the America’s Great Outdoors: Developing the Next Generation of Conservationists grant program was announced.