Saturday, April 23, 2016

REI Foundation Invests in Next Generation of Stewards at Mount Rainier

This week The REI Foundation announced an unprecedented $1 million investment in the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) to inspire, educate and engage the next generation of outdoor stewards. Decades after Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps as part of the New Deal, during which Americans planted more than 3 billion trees and created 800 parks, supporters of the outdoors are contributing to a national effort spearheaded by the U.S. Department of the Interior to establish quality jobs, career pathways and service opportunities for youth and veterans in America's great outdoors.

Inspired by the 21CSC's goal to "preserve, protect and promote America's greatest gifts," The REI Foundation is funding projects in 19 national parks throughout the country, forming part of the co-op's multi-year, multi-million dollar partnership with the National Park Foundation.
"This is a once in a lifetime chance for REI to invest in the leaders who will help keep our parks healthy and accessible for the next 100 years," said Jerry Stritzke, REI president and CEO.
The projects that The REI Foundation is investing in will connect new communities to the outdoors. Young people—including underserved high school and college students, inner-city youth and multicultural groups—will get real-world work experience in nearby parks. They will be paid as stewards of the outdoors, revitalizing the nation's most iconic and inspiring places, building and maintaining trail access and improving safety to help visitors go deeper.
"We're grateful for private sector partnerships with companies like REI that encourage a lifelong ethic of stewardship of the great outdoors," said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. "Thanks to REI's generosity, we're putting young people and returning veterans to work restoring and protecting our nation's land, water and wildlife while creating a connection to nature and public lands that can last a lifetime."  
Several projects will take place at a specific national park location—from the Santa Monica Mountains in California to Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C.—while others will span multiple national park sites this summer. The REI Foundation also supported four projects last summer at Colorado's Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument and in the Flagstaff area's National Monuments. 
The following projects are made possible by The REI Foundation's investment, in partnership with supporting nonprofit organizations and other donors:
  • California (Latino Heritage Internship Program): The Hispanic Access Foundation and Environment for the Americas will host more than 40 college students—including one intern per location—to develop interpretive programs, support museum and archival work, participate in archaeological fieldwork and engage in community outreach. These projects will take place at the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and the Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park over 10 weeks.

  • Colorado (Rocky Mountain National Park): A crew of 10-16 high school and college age youth will join the Rocky Mountain Conservancy to improve the Bierstadt Lake Trail.

  • Georgia (Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area): The Greening Youth Foundation will offer an employment opportunity for up to six high school youth to build and maintain trails during this four-week program.

  • Montana (Glacier National Park): Spanning four to 10 weeks, 12-24 high school and college age youth will join the Glacier Conservancy to reconstruct the iconic Hidden Lake Trail at Logan Pass.

  • Washington, D.C. (Rock Creek National Park): Fourteen inner-city high school students will work with the Student Conservation Association to repair the Valley Trail over eight to 10 weeks.

  • Washington (Mount Rainier National Park and Olympic National Park): A group of young people will help restore the iconic Wonderland Trail and Enchanted Valley Trail.

  • Various states (Groundwork Green Teams): Groundwork USA will partner with up to 120 youth ages 14-18 to provide summer experiences that combine community service, outdoor recreation and leadership development. Projects range from two to six weeks at up to seven national park sites, emphasizing water-based recreation and work activities.

  • Various states (Historically Black Colleges and Universities Initiative): The Greening Youth Foundation will work with approximately 50 college students to improve river access, provide ocean sciences education and convey social justice through art across multiple national park locations. This project will also support one to two interns per site to work with the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program to develop case studies for water recreation.

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