NWF Joins Official Kickoff of United We Serve Initiative

Interior Department launches call to service for summer outdoor mentoring projects

06-22-2009 // Amanda Cooke

SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK, VA -- National Wildlife Federation joined the Department of the Interior at today’s kickoff of United We Serve and is joining the national effort launched by President Obama to engage more Americans in serving their communities this summer.

As part of the President’s Summer of Service initiative, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued a call to action for every adult to mentor a child outdoors this summer. Secretary Salazar spoke at the Big Meadows Campground with volunteers who removed invasive species in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park.

“National Wildlife Federation applauds President Obama and the Interior Department’s United We Serve outdoor youth mentoring program. As the disconnect between children and nature grows, we need more parents and mentors to encourage young people to play outdoors. Both unstructured playtime and outdoor youth mentoring programs will keep America’s children healthy, creative, and engaged well beyond the summer months,” said Kevin Coyle, Vice President for Education and Training at National Wildlife Federation.

NWF’s Be Out There™ campaign is designed to get families across the United States to open the door and get outside. A daily dose of the outdoors improves children’s physical, mental and emotional well being. The benefits of outdoor play are real: healthier kids with a life-long appreciation of wildlife and nature.

"Children today spend half as much time outdoors as their parents and this has significant implications for our children's health, the economy and the future of American conservation," said Secretary Salazar today at an event highlighting summer service programs in Shenandoah National Park. "This summer, as part of President Obama's new United We Serve campaign, I encourage all Americans to serve by mentoring a child in the great outdoors and introducing them to our nation's treasured landscapes.”

NWF offers free resources to help mentors and youth enjoy the benefits of our treasured landscapes through camping, fishing, cycling, hiking and other outdoor activities. Visit www.nwf.org/naturefind for information about family-friendly and affordable outdoor activities and events.

United We Serve kicks off today and runs through September 11, which will be marked for the first time as a national day of service and remembrance. The initiative focuses on four key areas: education, health, energy and the environment; and community renewal. United We Serve is led by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that improves lives and strengthens communities though volunteering and service.

Serve.gov was created to allow visitors to type in their zip code to find local volunteer opportunities, recruit volunteers by posting their organization’s projects, or get ideas for creating their own projects with friends, families, and neighbors.

Just around the corner is the ultimate opportunity to experience our public lands with friends and family. Thousands of individuals and communities have registered for this weekend’s 5th Annual Great American Backyard Campout. On June 27, schools, faith and youth groups, and civic organizations will take a break to camp out across the country and experience the sights and sounds of nature--right outside their back door.

National Wildlife Federation is America's largest conservation organization inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future.

Contacts: Patrick Fitzgerald at 202-870-0824 or FitzgeraldP@nwf.org and Amanda Cooke at 703-438-6041 or CookeA@nwf.org

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