Sierra Club Gets Hundreds of Thousands of Kids Outdoors
The Sierra Club's Water Sentinels program engaged 165,000 youth across the country in 2009. Combined with partner programs Military Families Outdoors, Inner City Outings, and Building Bridges to the Outdoors, the Club got more than 200,000 kids outdoors last year.
"The Water Sentinels program is changing the face of America by getting youth and ordinary citizens involved in caring for our most precious resource," says Water Sentinels Deputy Director Tim Guilfoile.
Through its partnerships with the Federation of Fly Fishers, Trout Unlimited, Inner City Outings, the National Military Fish & Wildlife Association, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and other local youth-oriented organizations, Water Sentinels got more than 90,000 youngsters out in fishing in 2009.
"We've developed partnerships with schools, after-school programs, and summer camps to provide students with streamside education," says Water Sentinels Director Scott Dye. "Kids go fishing and floating, take nature hikes, do water-quality monitoring, and participate in outdoor education fairs, interpretive field trips, community litter cleanups, tree plantings along stream corridors, nature photography, and a whole lot more." The Water Sentinels engaged 27,000 youth in 2009 through these outdoor educational events.
"The Water Sentinels program has also built relationships with school systems that want to to incorporate water-related environmental education into their classroom curricula," says Guilfoile. "We work with teachers to identify age-appropriate educational materials that can be easily and affordably integrated into their teaching programs."
Through this initiative Water Sentinels trained 640 teachers last year, reaching some 16,000 students. The program also engaged an additional 25,000 students through direct actions, from the streamside to the classroom.
The Water Sentinels program's Earth Day celebrations consistently engage around 5,000 youth every year.
The Sierra Club's Military Families Outdoors Initiative partners with the National Military Association's Operation Purple camps and the Armed Services YMCA to offer a free week of summer fun for military kids with parents who have been, are currently, or will be deployed. In 2009, more than 100 weeks of camps were held and over 70 locations in 40 states and territories, reaching 11,000 youth.
Inner City Outings is a community outreach program that provides opportunities for urban youth and adults toconnect to the natural world. The Sierra Club has 50 volunteer-run ICO groups throughout the U.S., which conduct more than 800 outings every year and helping approximately 14,000 youth learn how to enjoy the outdoors safely and responsibly.
The Club's Building Bridges to the Outdoors Project aims to break down the barriers that prevent many young people from experiencing the great outdoors. Through partnerships with non-profit organizations and public schools serving low-income youth from communities of color across the country, the program connected more than 40,000 youth with the great outdoors in 2009.