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Success Story: DC’s Diverse Youth Outings Project

On February 16th, President Obama announced the release of the America’s Great Outdoors Report. The report lays out a conservation and recreation agenda for the 21st century, which was created with and for the American people. As a result of 21 youth listening sessions, we heard loud and clear that access is one of the biggest barriers in providing urban youth the opportunity to recreate and have fun in the outdoors.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), various National Latino Organizations (National Latino Coalition on Climate Change, National Hispanic Environmental Council and LULAC National Educational Service Centers) and the Sierra Club’s Inner City Outings (ICO) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to support a second year of the Diverse Youth Outings Project.  The initiative is designed to allow urban youth to experience the natural world and take ownership in preserving it.

On one recent outing, seventeen students from Washington, D.C.’s Chavez Preparatory Charter School enjoyed a day of ice skating at the National Sculpture Garden on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.   Many of the students were sporting skates for the first time.  This skating adventure marked the first of many adventures these students will make as part of the BLM-ICO partnership.  This year’s trips range from the ice skating event at the National Sculpture Gardens to visits to Rock Creek Park, and overnight campouts in parks and open spaces in Virginia, including the BLM’s Meadowood Farms in Lorton.  All of these outings support Let’s Move Outside!, focusing on healthy outdoor recreation and environmental stewardship.

America’s Great Outdoors provides an opportunity for the BLM to recast itself as a true multiple use agency that embraces conservation as well as addressing other national priorities, such as health and education.  I am proud of the important role the BLM serves in making our nation's public lands accessible to all Americans.  On behalf of the BLM, I would like to thank all of the partners for contributing to this project, and I thank the DC ICO volunteers for their leadership and passion.