New Office at Interior Department Will Engage and Employ Youth

NWF   |   April 29, 2009

737896_22763338Yesterday, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar formally announced the creation of an Office of Youth within the Interior Department to create and manage programs that are intended to get youth working outside again.

“The new office will build our programs, expand opportunities for young people, teach them to hunt and fish, and help us coordinate our efforts across the bureaus,” Secretary Salazar said.

It is hoped that these programs will introduce youth from all backgrounds to America’s national parks and forests, instilling an ethic of nature conservation and volunteerism, as well as creating new opportunities for employment. Salazar, who headed a similar youth program in Colorado, says, “Still today, I hear from the kids who went through that program –- many tell me they would never have gone to college, let alone landed a job in natural resource stewardship, if it were not for that program.”

Heather White, Director of Education Advocacy for National Wildlife Federation, notes that this kind of program will address a vital need to connect kids and families to nature. “In the past 20 years, time spent in the outdoors by youth has been cut in half. Meanwhile, the average 8 to 14 year old spends 6.5 hours a day plugged into some type of electronic media,” she says. “Engaging youth outside is important to our public health, our economy, and the future of conservation.”

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