Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today joined with local business, health, education, non-profit and conservation leaders in San Francisco to launch a national campaign to expand opportunities for youth on public lands. Today's kick-off comes on the heels of Secretary Jewell's major speech last week, in which she outlined conservation priorities for Interior, including an emphasis on fostering the next generation of environmental stewards, scientists, and natural resource managers.
"There is a growing disconnect between young people and the great outdoors -- and it's a gap that Interior has the power to help bridge," said Secretary Jewell. "Through public-private partnerships and in conjunction with all levels of government, Interior will expand its efforts to pass on our nation's rich conservation legacy and to inspire millions of young people to play, learn, serve and work outdoors."
In the morning, Jewell hosted a roundtable discussion with local leaders in San Francisco to outline her vision and to hear what efforts are underway in the area to boost youth engagement and employment. Following the roundtable, Jewell participated in a service project with local youth conservation corps members at Crissy Field in Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
"San Francisco is really a model for what can be accomplished when it comes to leveraging public-private partnerships to connect young people to the great outdoors -- whether it's in the classroom, through volunteer work, or with a job working on public lands," Jewell added. "Through this initiative, we hope to expand that success around the country, so that young people and veterans can not only accomplish meaningful work and gain important professional skills, but they can also build a lifelong connection to the outdoors."
The goals of Interior's youth initiative for the next four years include:
* Play: Interior will develop or enhance outdoor recreation partnerships in a total of 50 cities over the next four years to create new, systemic opportunities for outdoor play for more than 10 million young people.
* Learn: Provide educational opportunities to at least 10 million of the nation's K-12 student population annually. In addition to welcoming students into nature's classroom, we are developing and strengthening new online education resources, to reach more students.
* Serve: Engage 1 million volunteers annually on public lands, effectively tripling the numbers we have now. We know that many more people are interested in volunteering at national parks, wildlife refuges and public lands, but there are often insufficient staff resources to coordinate. In order to achieve the volunteer goal, we will place a renewed emphasis on volunteer coordination and management.
* Work: To develop the next generation of lifelong conservation stewards and ensure our own skilled and diverse workforce pipeline, Interior will provide 100,000 work & training opportunities to young people within our bureaus and through public-private partnerships. As part of this effort, we aim to raise an additional $20 million to support the youth work and training opportunities.
Youth engagement has been a signature part of President Obama's conservation agenda, and today's initiative will build upon the ongoing partnership with USDA and other members of the federal family through the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC). The 21CSC, launched as part of the America's Great Outdoors program, is a national collaborative effort to put America's youth and veterans to work protecting, restoring, and enhancing America's natural and cultural resources. The 21CSC engages young Americans aged 15-25, and veterans up to age 35.
An initial group of 91 organizations has been recognized for their commitment to the principles that the 21CSC embodies. All partner organizations have agreed to offer job and training opportunities to young people and veterans in America's great outdoors.