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The Green Life: Obama Wants "Kids off the Couch and out the Door"

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February 25, 2011

Obama Wants "Kids off the Couch and out the Door"

Hiking_outdoors We know that young Americans like to tweet and text, but do they like to to hike and camp too?

Last week, the federal government released the results of its America's Great Outdoors (AGO) feedback tour. Its purpose was to ask more than 2,000 young Americans ages 16 to 25 what their government can do to help them forge a stronger connection to nature. Obama launched the AGO initiative last April to improve access to the outdoors for Americans of all ages and to increase funding for public land and water conservation.

The effort comes at an opportune time; last week's White House Report showed that young people spend seven hours per day tethered to screens. Despite that statistic, the tour's feedback indicated that teens do in fact want to spend more time exploring, fishing, climbing, and swimming. They just might need some help doing so.

For some participants, the cost of transportation or outdoor gear is the major barrier. For others, it's a matter of safety stemming from a lack of environmental education. Enthusiasm for jobs with federal land-management agencies (and other outdoor careers) is high, but respondents said that these jobs are hard to find.

The Obama administration is responding to the findings via the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps, remnicient of FDR's Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps; a new, all-encompassing website called YouthGO.gov; and more investment in green spaces.

Said Obama, "We have to ask ourselves: What can we do to break free from the routine and reconnect with the world around us? What can we do to get our kids off the couch and out the door?"

--Rosie Spinks

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