Interior Dept. launches website promoting youth employment in the outdoors

By Collegian News Staff

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The Department of the Interior is seeking to get young people working and moving at the same time.

Courtesy eco.umass.edu

Courtesy eco.umass.edu

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced March 17 the debut of a new website, www.YouthGO.gov, which will streamline information about job and internship opportunities in government-run outdoors programs, as well as detailing facts about upcoming events in America’s outdoors and educational opportunities pertaining to conservation and environmental preservation, according to a March 17 release from the White House Office of News and Media Affairs. Salazar made the announcement in a March 17 Web chat on the White House website with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack discussing President Barack Obama’s recent America’s Great Outdoors Initiative.

The initiative aims to “develop a 21st century conservation and recreation agenda,” according to its website, americasgreatoutdoors.gov. The effort is non-partisan in nature and uses as its doctrine “that the protection of our natural heritage is a non-partisan objective shared by all Americans.”

President Obama announced the commencement of the initiative last April 16, stating that “we are losing touch with too many of the places and proud traditions that have helped to make America special,” and that “families are spending less time together enjoying their natural surroundings.”

The mission of the initiative is to “reconnect Americans, especially children, to America’s rivers and waterways, landscapes of national significance, ranches, farms and forests, great parks, and coasts and beaches by exploring a variety of efforts, including: promoting community-based recreation and conservation, including local parks, greenways, beaches, and waterways; advancing job and volunteer opportunities related to conservation and outdoor recreation; and supporting existing programs and projects that educate and engage Americans in our history, culture, and natural bounty.”

In addition, the initiative aims to “build upon state, local, private and tribal priorities for the conservation of land, water, wildlife, historic and cultural resources,” and to “use science-based management practices to restore and protect our lands and waters for future generations.”

In his remarks announcing the inception of the new youth opportunities site, Salazar said the page will serve as a job hub for young people hoping to get involved in outdoors programs.

“This website is designed to help young people get out, get involved, and get a job when it comes to the great outdoors,” he said. “Young people are the next generation of conservationists and we must empower them to take a leadership role in shaping their future.”

As part of the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, the Interior Department has already created a Youth in the Great Outdoors office, hiring more than 21,000 young people in 2010 alone, according to the White House release. That marked a 45 percent increase from 2009.

The YouthGO site provides links to an array of internships, seasonal and permanent job opportunities within the Department of the Interior, with the release listing a few such openings as working concessions to national parks to building trails on publicly-held land.

According to the release, the site was driven by the National Conservation Training Center of the Fish and Wildlife Service. The site will also be a home for non-profits and government partners in various initiatives to highlight outdoors-related programs and efforts they are organizing. Young people will also be able to use the site for networking purposes, as it features a section for sharing outdoors-inspired stories and experiences.

Sam Butterfield can be reached at [email protected]