SAWS in Tennessee
This week is National Environmental Education Week, April 13-19, 2014. It is a week to celebrate the connection between young people and the outdoors.
It is a connection that must be cherished because unfortunately it has been diminishing in recent years. A recent survey showed that U.S. teenagers spend less than seven hours a week in nature. But it also showed that U.S. parents want to change that:
- 65% think it is a “very serious” problem that kids are not spending more time outdoors - equal to concerns about bullying, education and obesity
- 82% think spending time in nature is “very important” to their children’s development - second only to reading
- 83% think that time in nature leads to improvement in the classroom
Watch Interior Secretary Sally Jewell's shout-out for this week:
While National Environmental Education Week tends to focus on K-12 students, The Wilderness Society believes in fostering lifelong connections to nature and our wild lands. We recruit and inspire young adults to care for our wild lands through our Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (SAWS) program. Last year SAWS employed 23 seasonal conservation leaders, trained more than 90 wilderness stewards and facilitated over 8,000 volunteer hours of service across five national forests.
“The challenges in stewarding our protected public lands also gives rise to the greatest of opportunities. The rewards are two-fold: we are keeping the trails open and protecting wilderness character while also changing the lives of young Americans by connecting them to their public lands,” said Director Bill Hodge, who received the White House's “Champion of Change” for Engaging the Next Generation of Conservation Leaders Award last month.
This weekend SAWS will be hosting a Wilderness Education and Trail Stewardship weekend with the Access Fund and Carolina Climbers Coalition in Linville Gorge Wilderness, one of the most popular wilderness areas in its region. Participants who attend on Friday and/or Saturday will learn about sustainable trail design and how to address challenges like erosion, hiker safety and resource protection.
Join us in inspiring Americans to care for our wild places. It is the only way to ensure they will remain protected.