Secretary Jewell Announces Grants to Put Young People to Work on Public Lands

Public-Private Funding Supports 21st Century Conservation Service Corps

Last edited 02/15/2023

Date: December 15, 2016
Jody Karr, American YouthWorks, 512-983-9946

AUSTIN, TEXAS – Today, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced more than $350,000 in funding to engage youth and veterans in hands-on conservation projects on public lands from Big Bend National Park in Texas to North Cascades National Park in Washington State. The grants are part of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC), an ongoing national effort to prepare the next generation of outdoor stewards by training and employing thousands of America’s young adults to protect, restore and enhance our nation’s public lands and waters. 

Secretary Jewell’s visit to Austin is part of her nationwide tour to highlight progress the nation has made during the last eight years in protecting our nation’s lands, waters and wildlife, including engaging the next generation. [See 15 inspiring moments of how Interior is connecting kids to nature across the country.] Jewell joined youth conservation corps members at the American YouthWorks headquarters to make the announcement – which includes $39,000 for the Texas Conservation Corps – and to hear directly from corps members on how their service has benefited them.

Jewell also announced that travel company Expedia is donating $50,000 in 2017 to fund firefighting crews comprised of returning veterans. Launched in 2013 the 21CSC has raised more than $20 million in donations since 2013 from businesses, foundations and federal agencies. Expedia joins companies like American Express, REI, The North Face, Thule, American Eagle Outfitters, CamelBak, Coca-Cola, The Campion Foundation, Backwoods, the Albertson Family Foundation and Youth Outdoor Legacy Fund in a national movement to invest in and help prepare future conservation leaders by providing meaningful and lasting opportunities to play, learn, serve and work in the great outdoors. 

“Public-private partnerships are essential for developing meaningful and effective strategies to engage youth in service on public lands, from local city parks to the crown jewels of America’s National Park System,” said Secretary Jewell. “By employing young people to restore trails, remove invasive species, rehabilitate historic structures and more, they form lifelong connections to nature and each other, while improving communities where they play, learn, serve and work. Thanks to our many partners for their generous support and for joining us in investing in the next generation of public land stewards.”

The $350,000 in funds announced today will support conservation corps to do work in the following areas:

  • American YouthWorks ($39,000): Texas Conservation Corps in Big Bend National Park
  • Student Conservation Association ($115,000): Five years of funding for youth corps in Virgin Islands National Park
  • Conservation Legacy ($39,500): Tribal youth corps in Petroglyph National Monument in New Mexico and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area on the border of Utah and Arizona
  • EarthCorps ($44,864): Stewardship & maintenance in North Cascades National Park in Washington state
  • Kupu ($70,000): Kahakai National Historic Trail, Kalaupapa National Historic Park and FWS National Wildlife Refuges in the Hawaii
  • Team Rubicon ($50,000): Veteran firefighting crews on public lands through 2017

Through the 21CSC, thousands of young adults and veterans work on projects across America’s public lands, including maintaining campgrounds, preserving historic sites, monitoring water quality, building trails and more. From Denali to the Everglades, youth conservation corps members are gaining work experience, helping improve the visitor experience and mobilizing entire communities in the stewardship of our parks, refuges, waters and heritage.

Investments in conservation corps programs will continue well beyond 2017. The Interior Department has worked closely with the Department of Commerce to secure $8 million for these types of programs through the RESTORE Council. To date, $500,000 has been awarded to five tribal communities (Miccosukee Tribe of Indians, Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana, The Poarch Band of Creek Indians, Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, and Seminole Tribe of Florida) in the Gulf region. Over the past three years, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the National Park Foundation have helped raise private funding for 21CSC projects. More than 76,000 young people have participated in projects between 2014-2016.

Austin, along with San Antonio and Houston, are also among the 51 cities selected as part of the Interior Department’s leadership of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Outside initiative connecting millions of young people to the outdoors. Local YMCAs are coordinating efforts in each city, and the YMCA of Austin will be receiving funding through 2017 to grow participation in conservation and recreation programs. Learn how some of the first cities are already making a difference in kids’ lives.

Let’s Move and the 21CSC are part an overall strategy by the Obama Administration to connect young people to the outdoors. Other efforts include the Every Kid in A Park program to provide all fourth grade students and their families with free admission to national parks and other public lands and waters for a full year. Today, the White House Council on Environmental Quality also announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between all participating agencies to ensure this program will continue. These complement the National Park Service’s Find Your Park campaign celebrating this year’s centennial of the National Park System. 

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