Administration Creates Youth Conservation Corps
This past Monday, Secretary Salazar officially established an Office of Youth in Natural Resources at the Department of the Interior (DOI). The program is specifically designed to create jobs, career opportunities, and expand outdoors experiences available to young people with an eye toward those who are underserved. One of the cornerstones of this office is the creation of a 21st Century Youth Conservation Corps. Modeled after the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps that employed millions of people, this modern-day program will connect people who are in need of work with very necessary projects on our public lands. And in doing so, it will give people who may not normally have the opportunity to interact with the outdoors the chance to develop that connection.
The annoucement of this initiative could not come at a better time. Much of our country's youth has become disconnected from the natural world, more inclined to the virtual one of television, video games, and internet. At the same time we are mired in a recession and people desperately need jobs. Meanwhile, our public lands are facing unprecedented threats from a warming climate. This new DOI office, as well as the Youth Conservation Corps, perfectly addresses the confluence of these three issues. It is a clear recognition and a bold statement by the administration that says we can put people to work, help protect our public lands against a myriad of threats, and restore a respect and affinity for the outdoors in a new generation of young people.