Advisory committee will help build foundation for next generation of conservationists
WASHINGTON – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack today announced an important step in the creation of a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC), an organization called for in President Obama's America's Great Outdoors Report. Secretaries Salazar and Vilsack named members of a newly-established federal advisory committee that will provide recommendations on how to build on the important ongoing work of local, state, federal and non-profit youth conservation corps that engage young Americans in hands-on service and job training experiences on public lands and open spaces.
21CSC will empower young people – including low-income, underserved and diverse youth and returning veterans – with valuable training and work experience, while accomplishing important conservation and restoration work for America's great outdoors, waterways and cultural heritage sites.
“The 21st Century Conservation Service Corps will be a way for our nation's young people to work on conservation and outdoor recreation initiatives that drive America's economy and to find new ways to connect to their communities and build their careers,” Salazar said. “The conservation-service movement is steeped in rich history dating back to the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933. I am confident that this committee of dedicated individuals with vast experience in conservation, outdoor recreation and youth employment will create a system to train and employ the next generation of conservationists.”
The committee – composed of representatives of the nation's conservation, service and workforce development groups along with representatives from federal agencies – will provide Salazar and Vilsack advice on a framework for the Conservation Service Corps' organizational structure; certification criteria for Corps providers and members; strategies to overcome existing barriers to successful program implementation; partnership opportunities with outside organizations and pathways for Corps participants to pursue future conservation, community engagement and natural resource careers.
“We heard from people across the country about the importance and urgency of connecting our young people with America's Great Outdoors,” said Secretary Vilsack. “Providing meaningful work opportunities on our public lands will help youth gain important skills, develop our next generation of conservation stewards, and accomplish needed work related to our natural and cultural resources. This committee will help the Federal Government to work more effectively and efficiently with our partners to accomplish these goals.”
Today's announcement builds on the promise made to the American public during the America's Great Outdoors listening sessions to take their recommendations and move them forward, as well as Secretary Salazar's initiative to establish youth employment and education as a priority for Interior by creating the Office of Youth in the Great Outdoors. Interior is the only federal agency to have a Secretarial-level office dedicated to providing Department-wide leadership, coordination, direction and oversight of youth employment and education programs.
Public lands managed by Interior draw more than 400 million visits a year. According to some recent non-governmental estimates, outdoor recreation, conservation and heritage initiatives support as many as 8.4 million jobs and provide as much as $1 trillion in annual economic benefits. Additionally, one in twenty U.S. jobs are in the recreation economy – more than there are doctors, lawyers, or teachers.
The Secretaries announced the appointment of the following individuals – whose terms begin immediately – to serve on the council.
The official Charter for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Advisory Committee can be found on the 21CSC AC website: www.doi.gov/21CSC