Like rivers joining forces, two groups involved with getting kids outside have teamed up combine forces as well.
As part of the Department of the Interior’s ambitious youth initiative to engage and employ the next generation through America’s great outdoors, the National Park Service and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America today announced they are combining their efforts to provide memorable and meaningful experiences for young people. The two organizations today signed a formal memorandum of understanding to develop joint field trips and programs that encourage outdoor recreation, citizen stewardship and healthy lifestyles.
“This collaboration unites the resources and expertise of two organizations that are committed to youth engagement and development,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “It will introduce thousands of children to their national parks – magnificent places where they can play, learn, serve, and work outdoors. This type of personal contact with nature benefits us in so many ways physically, mentally, socially and spiritually.”
Under the agreement, National Park Service sites and Boys & Girls Clubs chapters, including affiliated centers on U.S. military installations worldwide, will leverage their resources to expand the reach of both organizations. They will create joint recreational, educational and developmental programs that emphasize academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles.
“Our exciting new partnership with the National Park Service will create many opportunities to expand the educational horizons of the young people at our Clubs,” said Jim Clark, President and CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of America. “From hands-on environmental service projects, to behind-the-scenes field trips with park rangers, to apprenticeship programs with the Youth Conservation Corps, the sky ids the limit on the benefits we foresee from bringing together our two great organizations.”
The goals of the Department of the 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 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, Interior is developing and strengthening new online education resources, to reach more students.
Serve: Engage 1 million volunteers annually on public lands, effectively tripling the current volunteer numbers. Many more people are interested in volunteering at national parks, wildlife refuges and public lands, but there are often insufficient staff resources to coordinate them. In order to achieve the volunteer goal, a renewed emphasis will be placed 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 and veterans within our bureaus and through public-private partnerships. As part of this effort, the Department aims to raise an additional $20 million from private and corporate donors to support youth work and training opportunities.
This initiative follows a Secretarial Order issued by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell 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 nonprofit organizations to support the Obama Administration’s 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC). The 21CSC is a national collaborative effort to put America’s youth and veterans to work protecting, restoring, and enhancing America’s natural and cultural resources.