This morning Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild joined Janice Schneider, Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management, U.S. Department of the Interior, and Don Jenks, Board President, YMCA of Southern Arizona, to announce an initiative to get youth active outdoors—playing, working, learning, and volunteering.
Tucson is among the first 50 cities to take part in First Lady Michelle Obama’s Lets Move! Outside initiative. Several community organizations will share $212,000 in grant funding from the American Express Foundation—to help with, for example, restoration projects in the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area and Saguaro National Park.
The initiative will also provide two years of funding for the YMCA of Southern Arizona to create a community coordinator position to help facilitate collaboration, grow resources, and increase participation in outdoor programs on public lands, from local parks to federal lands and waters. Funding will also support efforts to engage young adults and veterans to serve in the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps and engage new volunteers during next year’s National Park Service centennial.
“I’m very pleased to join this program,” said Mayor Rothschild. “Tucson is surrounded by beautiful desert and mountains, and more of our youth need to get out and experience that—develop a deeper appreciation for the natural world.”
Assistant Secretary Schneider said that this new partnership was “nurturing a movement to foster the next generation of leaders and outdoor stewards while helping people connect to the public lands in their community—particularly in urban areas like Tucson.”
Part of an overall strategy by the Obama Administration to connect young people to the outdoors, this initiative joins the President’s recently announced “Every Kid in A Park” initiative to provide all fourth grade students and their families with free admission to national parks and other public lands and waters for a full year, and the National Park Service’s “Find Your Park” campaign in preparation for next year’s centennial of the National Park System.