Department of Interior

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Office of the Secretary

Contact: Mark Pfeifle or
Joan Moody

For Immediate Release: April 16, 2003

Interior Secretary Norton Launches National Volunteer Program To Restore and Improve America's Public Lands
"Working with volunteers, we lend our hands to heal our land, one acre at a time," says Norton

(WASHINGTON, DC) - Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton today launched Take Pride in America, a national partnership initiative aimed at increasing volunteer service on America's public lands. Norton unveiled the program at the National Press Club Newsmaker Luncheon.

"By working with volunteers, young and old, we lend our hands to heal our land, one acre at a time. And in so doing, we are celebrating the start of the national, grassroots, bipartisan Take Pride in America program," Secretary Norton said.

Immediately following her address, Norton rolled up her shirt sleeves to participate in a Take Pride project along with Washington Deputy Mayor Herbert R. Tillery and actor and rancher-conservationist Rick Schroder. Norton, Tillery and Schroder helped school children plant trees and clean up debris along a tributary of the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C.'s Watts Branch of Heritage Park.

"Take Pride In America will empower volunteers from every corner of America to restore and improve our parks, refuges, recreation areas and cultural and historical sites. The program inspires citizen stewardship through a bold and innovative public communication campaign. Outstanding volunteer efforts are rewarded with presidential recognition," Norton said at the National Press Club address.

The program works with governors and other partners to launch volunteer conservation projects. Take Pride is part of President George W. Bush's USA Freedom Corps, dedicated to fostering a culture of service to others.

"Take Pride has gained tremendous momentum by enlisting more than 100 charter partners - including major corporations, conservation groups, service organizations, trade associations and a bipartisan coalition of state governors," Norton said.

Governors Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho and Janet Napolitano of Arizona have agreed to be co-chairs of Take Pride's Council of Governors. The Council works with governors to enter into memoranda agreements with the national program. Formal partnerships with state governments allow federal and state land managers to identify volunteer opportunities and to enlist public service commitments from citizens.

Companies and corporations can help by sponsoring Take Pride In America cleanup days or by committing blocks of volunteer service time to local restoration efforts.

The Interior Department launched to outline program goals and offers ideas and suggestion for citizen, group and corporate involvement.

"We want the expertise of our federal conservation agencies to be more accessible and helpful to partners in state, county and municipal governments and to the countless citizen organizations who want to help," Norton said. "We also want the American people to bring their energy and creativity to help our parks, refuges and public recreation areas. And we want every child in America to realize their great inheritance of scenic beauty and natural bounty. We want them to learn, to cherish, and to take an active role in safeguarding and restoring our lands."

Take Pride will sponsor a national recognition and awards program. Each state forwards its best Take Pride efforts for four annual national awards. The volunteer service certificate is awarded to those who have logged 100 or more hours of service. Federal agencies recognize volunteers who have donated up to 2,000 hours of service. The Secretarial Award recognizes 3,000 hours of service. A special Presidential Award is given to those who have reached 4,000 hours of service.

Norton recognized 10 volunteers today for their outstanding efforts. They include the following: Anastacia Hernando, Salem, Mass.; Harriet Flotte, Towson, Md.; Ray and Juanita Huber, Santa Clara, Utah; John Corcoran III, Rio Rancho, N.M.; Patricia Biggs, Yuma, Ariz.; Jim Montgomery, Roswell, N.M.; Steve Noyes, Beltsville, Md.; Rosalita Spiller, Carterville, Ill.; and Molly Krival, Sanibel, Fla.

Each award winner has worked to enhance and improve public lands through volunteer service, making it possible for more Americans to enjoy our natural resources.

Secretary Norton's Press Club Remarks


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