Obama Administration Announces New Conservation Jobs Program For Youth as Part of America's Great Outdoors Initiative

​Projects in California, Alaska and Maryland Kick Off Partnership Effort

Washington, DC — The Obama Administration and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced a new national grant program aimed at linking youth with outdoor conservation jobs as part of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative. The initiative brings together public and private partners to support organizations that are developing innovative conservation job opportunities for youth, especially those living in urban areas. Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and officials from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (FS) made the announcement this morning in Los Angeles with the LA Conservation Corps, one of three initial grant recipients through the new program.

The initial phase of the grant program, to be administered by NFWF, will leverage $1 million in existing funding from the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service with at least $1 million in matching funds from corporations, foundations and other non-Federal partners to provide critical financial support for conservation jobs and jobs training programs.

The America's Great Outdoors Initiative brings Federal agencies together to support the innovative conservation efforts of American communities by leveraging resources and promoting strategic partnerships. In addition to social, cultural and historic value, America's outdoors provide vital jobs and economic benefits to communities across the country. For example, National Forests and Grasslands saw more than 171 million visits in 2010, generating $14.5 billion in visitor spending on those lands and in surrounding communities. The Bureau of Land Management saw more than 58 million visits in 2010, providing an economic impact of $7.4 billion. Over the past two years, Federal agencies and partners have worked together to provide more than 50,000 young people with paid work and service learning opportunities on public lands and waters.

"Through the America's Great Outdoors Initiative, the Obama Administration has made it a priority to help communities reconnect American youth with the recreational, economic and health benefits of being outdoors," said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. "Public-private partnerships such as the ones we are announcing today will leverage Federal and private sector resources to empower communities to link youth with jobs that help to protect our extraordinary natural heritage."

"Providing our young people with training and experience in conservation jobs is a tremendously important component of The America's Great Outdoors Initiative," said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. "These grants will promote opportunities across the country, particularly in our cities."

"This is yet another opportunity for the Forest Service to help ensure our youth have the best opportunities to connect with the great outdoors. We take seriously our responsibility to develop the land stewards of tomorrow today," said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. "We're happy to partner with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Bureau of Land Management and other agencies."

"It is critical that our youth develop a better understanding of and an appreciation for the outdoors and the opportunities they have to enjoy their public lands," said BLM Director Bob Abbey. "This is best achieved when we can actually get young people out on the ground in our national monuments, conservation areas, wilderness areas, and recreation spots. Only by experiencing the nation's public lands first hand will the next generation develop a personal relationship with them. This program allows them to do just that."

The grant initiative, called "America's Great Outdoors: Developing the Next Generation of Conservationists," is modeled on successful programs such as Federal Youth Conservation Corps and Public Lands Corps to encourage youth employment and environmental education through hands-on implementation of habitat restoration and other conservation related projects on public lands.

The initial grants announced today are:

$100,000 — with additional matching funds from funding partner Southern California Edison — for the Los Angeles Conservation Corps. The Los Angeles Conservation Corps and Southern California Edison will work with BLM and the FS to enhance wildlife habitat and promote public access and recreation opportunities on public lands in Southern California. Specifically, at-risk youth from the Los Angeles area will have the opportunity to learn about conservation and career opportunities through LA Conservation Corps's Young Adult Corps program. Participants will assist with projects such as the removal of invasive species, planting of native species and trail construction and maintenance. Projects will occur on the Angeles National Forest and BLM preserves within the Coachella Valley in Southern California.

$100,000 for the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program. The University of Alaska will partner with BLM and FS to expand the highly-successful Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program (ANSEP) to inspire high school and college age Alaska Native youth to pursue conservation careers via mentorship programs and hands-on internship opportunities. An additional $100,000 in matching funds is being provided by a local foundation and several corporations, bringing the total award to $200,000. ANSEP will reach out to high schools in rural Alaska Native villages and towns and seek out students who are qualified academically and interested in science careers. ANSEP will then team the students up with practicing conservation professionals from BLM and US Forest Service on experiential academic enrichment activities and field internships.

$100,000 for the Potomac River Conservation Job Training Program. In the Potomac River Conservation Job Training Program, BLM and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources will expand the Maryland Conservation Corps and the Civic Justice Corps to work on conservation projects along the Potomac River near the nation's capital. Students and young adults will participate in restoration projects on land owned by the BLM at Douglas Point, such as tree plantings, shoreline restoration, and invasive plant removal. They will also support the planning of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail on three sites along the river. When matching funds are combined, the total award will exceed $200,000.

For more information on the program, visit www.nfwf.org/youth

For more information on the America's Great Outdoors initiative, visit: www.americasgreatoutdoors.gov.

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Rob Blumenthal, 202-857-0166