America's Great Outdoors: Outdoor Nation!

Youth, Officials Gather in Central Park to Talk Jobs, Recreation, and the Future of Conservation

06-24-2010 // Patrick Fitzgerald, Director of Education Advocacy at NWF
Elk River gravel bar

Recently, I headed up to New York City to attend a massive outdoor youth summit.  Outdoor Nation took place—you guessed it!—out-of-doors, in Central Park.  The June event, convened by the Outdoor Foundation, brought 500 young people to the city from all 50 states.

The goal? Provide a voice for young people (ages of 13-30) to reclaim, redefine and rediscover the great outdoors.  Attendees were diverse, from all walks of life, urban and rural settings, from every corner of the nation.  These young people are passionate about their vision of the future of conservation in America.  I was thrilled to be joined by young people from NWF’s Earth Tomorrow program in Atlanta and our Campus Ecology team.

The White House also paid a special visit to Outdoor Nation to gather the youth’s perspective for President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative, which the president established in April 2010.  Senior administration officials from the Department of the Interior, Department of Agriculture and the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and dozens of federal agency staff, sat down in Central Park with groups of 10 or so young people and listened to their ideas and vision.  

Also at Outdoor Nation, leaders from the U.S. Departments of Labor, Interior and Agriculture joined in to announce the launch of a $20 million federal grant opportunity and the implementation of an initiative designed to help disadvantaged youth prepare for jobs in the outdoors.

It was a great weekend for youth and the great outdoors!

Follow Patrick on Twitter @PatrickNWF and visit www.nwf.org/greatoutdoors to learn more.

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