A group of ten young adult leaders from across the United States are in Washington, D.C. this week to champion outdoor issues, including full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, increased outdoor opportunities in schools, easier access to the outdoors for underserved communities and perhaps most of all a permanent seat at the ‘adult’ table where decisions about youth and protections for the outdoors are made. These Outdoor Nation Ambassadors and other youth leaders will meet with high-level administration officials from the White House, Department of Interior and Congress. The Ambassadors represent thousands of outdoor enthusiasts that are part of Outdoor Nation, the youth-led movement championing the outdoors.
“We are proud to empower young adults and allow their voices to be heard,” said Chris Fanning, the executive director of The Outdoor Foundation, the organization that oversees Outdoor Nation. “If policy-makers in Washington listen to these innovative, passionate youth leaders, we will be more successful in reconnecting young people to the outdoors, reversing America’s catastrophic inactivity crisis and protecting our outdoor heritage, which belongs to the next generation.”
Outdoor Nation’s “Take Action” Week in Washington is part of a larger effort bringing Americans to the nation’s capital to voice support for the outdoors. Outdoor Nation Ambassadors will discuss with policy-makers Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s new America’s Great Outdoors initiative along with specific issues such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the designation of new monuments and other protections for public lands, and increased support for federal programs that reconnect youth and the outdoors.
“Our generation can organize and mobilize like no other generation in history,” said Outdoor Nation Ambassador Kimberly Banzhaf from Colorado. “I am joining with thousands of other young leaders to focus our passion, energy and creative spirit on the important outdoor issues that have been tossed aside, especially during the nation’s economic downturn.”
Outdoor Nation “Take Action” Week continues the momentum of the 2011 Summer Youth Summits, which brought young leaders together in a weekend forum to address the growing disconnect between youth and the outdoors. During each regional Summit, young people discussed regional outdoor issues and brainstormed project ideas that strengthen America’s connection to its outdoor spaces.
From September 20 to 22, Ambassadors will meet with Secretary Salazar, White House representatives from the Council on Environmental Quality and Members of Congress. In addition, Outdoor Nation leaders will meet with top officials from National Park Service, USDA Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Outdoor Nation Ambassador Juan Herrera from California will also participate in a briefing for Capitol Hill on Thursday, September 22, with Senator Mark Udall (D-CO), Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI) and corporate and nonprofit members from the Outdoor Alliance for Kids Coalition. The panelists will outline the benefits of connecting youth and the outdoors, including health and economic benefits.
Outdoor Nation is an initiative of The Outdoor Foundation and was founded with initial support from The North Face, Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, The REI Foundation, The Conservation Fund and the National Park Service.