Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced Wednesday that American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. will provide $1 million to help fund the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC), and in doing so, will help put young people and veterans to work on America's public lands. American Eagle Outfitters is an American clothing retailer that targets its products at young adults in the college-age market. The company's pledge represents a portion of the $20 million Secretary Jewell promised to raise last October to fulfill the vision of 21CSC and build the next generation of public lands stewards.
The commitment of the Administration and the private sector to stewardship of our public lands and waters could not come at a better time, as the backlog of overdue maintenance on our National Parks, Forests, Refuges, Wilderness areas, and other conservation lands continues to grow and agency budgets get squeezed by Congress. Building a robust 21st Century Conservation Service Corps is one way to address these critical maintenance needs.
"Conservation corps provide thousands of jobs and training opportunities for young people, complete high quality conservation project work, and develop a new generation of healthy, work-ready young people who are invested in the stewardship of America’s public lands and waters," said Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society. "The support for 21CSC offered by American Eagle Outfitters is an inspiring act of corporate citizenship. We encourage other businesses to show a similar vision and commitment to stewardship of these lands."
America's federal land management agencies and the Partnership for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps have formed an innovative public-private collaborative that is working to engage more people in public lands stewardship. The Partnership's goal is to increase the number of conservation corps opportunities for young people and veterans from the current number of 20,000 per year to 100,000 per year by 2018. The Wilderness Society's Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (SAWS) program is an award-winning 21CSC-recognized program that provides opportunities for young people to work in the forests of North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia. Successful implementation of 21CSC will enable The Wilderness Society to provide more of these opportunities on the forests of the Southeast.
Paul Sanford, (202) 429-2615, email@example.com
Michael Carroll, (970) 946-9043, Michael_carroll@tws.org