Sets Specific Goals to Work with Businesses, Conservation Groups and Youth Organizations to Provide Opportunities to Play, Learn, Serve and Work Outdoors
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Formalizing an ambitious initiative to connect America's young people to the great outdoors, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today issued a Secretarial Order to significantly expand recreational, educational, volunteer and career opportunities for millions of youth and veterans on the nation's public lands, including partnerships with businesses and youth organizations to support the Obama Administration's 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC).
President Obama has made investing in America's youth a priority. The President's 2015 budget request for Interior proposes $50.6 million for youth programs and employment opportunities, a $13.6 million (or 37 percent) increase from 2014.
Three years ago, the Administration launched the 21CSC, a national collaborative effort to put America's youth and veterans to work protecting, restoring, and enhancing America's natural and cultural resources. This interagency effort is a central component of the President's America's Great Outdoors Initiative, which is helping to protect some of the places that Americans love most and to connect people from all backgrounds with the recreational, economic and health benefits of our nation's lands and waters.
In addition, Secretary Jewell has called upon the private sector and philanthropic organizations to contribute $20 million to fund additional employment opportunities through the 21CSC and provide pathways to employment for young people and veterans.
“In a time of constrained resources, we should be looking for innovative ways to achieve the same margin of excellence,” Jewell said. “That is why we are asking corporations, foundations and philanthropists to join us by helping us raise funds needed for these programs, supporting volunteer efforts, and incorporating preferential hiring practices for corps members.”
Already, two major companies, American Eagle Outfitters and Camelbak, have committed funds toward this goal. Funds will be administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and awarded directly to youth conservation corps to hire young people and veterans.
Jewell noted that, with one third of the department's work force eligible to retire in five years, America needs to raise up a new vanguard of professionals to care for our natural and cultural resources for future generations.
“The next generation of scientists, wildlife biologists, tribal experts, park managers and conservation leaders are now in school or just entering the workforce,” she said. “This is the time we need to invest in creating meaningful connections between young people and the great outdoors.”
To learn more about the Interior Department's youth initiative, click here.