When President Obama recently called on federal agencies to help young people find more work in the great outdoors, the U.S. Forest Service – with 193 million acres of prime outdoor space —responded quickly with jobs for hundreds of underserved youths.
The America’s Great Outdoors: Developing the Next Generation of Conservationists initiative will fund 20 projects, providing more than 500 young people with the experience of a lifetime working on public lands this summer work season. The Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation recently announced $3.7 million in competitive grants through the initiative.
“This program is putting youth to work and making our nation’s public lands more accessible,” said Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack. “With 80 percent of our country now living in urban areas, it is through partnerships like these that we are finding opportunities for Americans to work, live and play on our forests and grasslands and experience America’s Great Outdoors.”
One grant recipient, the Utah Conservation Corps Bilingual Youth Corps based at Utah State University in Logan, will expand its Bilingual Youth Corps by hiring 36 bilingual high school students over a two-year period to help complete 50 miles of wilderness trail maintenance and habitat restoration on 135 acres of public lands on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, the Salt Lake Watershed and along the Jordan River Parkway. The program is receiving $165,000 in federal and private-partner funds.
This summer the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of the Interior and the White House Council on Environmental Quality plan to help hire some 20,000 young people between the ages of 15-25 for jobs on national forests, national parks, wildlife refuges and other public lands.
“This public-private partnership will help bring young people from diverse backgrounds and urban areas to the public lands for meaningful employment opportunities, mentorships, and the joy of the great outdoors,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and chief executive officer of the Fish and Wildlife Foundation. “This is a perfect example of how we can team up to help foster the next generation of conservationists.”
Visit the USDA newsroom for more details, and to view the list of projects.