National Coalition Urges Increased Support for Youth Service on Public Lands

Press Release
Wednesday, February 3, 2010

(WASHINGTON, DC) February 3, 2010 - Advocates for America’s young people and public lands today announced a new effort to create and propel opportunities in youth service, career development and resource management jobs. Leaders of the Public Lands Service Coalition say the best way to increase employment among young people, bring diversity and contemporary skills to land management agencies, and address the burgeoning backlog of park maintenance is to expand youth service and green job training on public lands.

The Public Lands Service Coalition is an alliance of more than a dozen national, regional and local nonprofit organizations. According to Dale Penny, Coalition steering committee member and President of the Student Conservation Association, the coalition’s first priority is to win authorization and funding for the Public Lands Service Corps Act (HR1612, S1442) and other related legislative and bureaucratic initiatives.

“Young people are stepping up to serve in record numbers across our country, only to be met by high hurdles and red tape,” says Penny. “As our nation suffers from such severe economic and environmental distress, we must act now to streamline administrative processes, empower our future workforce, and protect our public lands.”

“We call upon the Administration and Congress to work with their partner youth organizations such as Service and Conservation Corps and SCA to clear the way for conservation work, plow a path to prosperity, and support young people, including those from low-income and minority communities who seek to serve their country’s parks, forests, refuges and seashores,” adds Sally Prouty, president of The Corps Network. “The next generation of employees for public land management agencies has already stepped up and the Coalition’s partner organizations can turn their intentions into service.”

“The irony here is that no one disagrees with the solution,” states the Coalition’s Harry Bruell, president of the Southwest Conservation Corps. “President Obama, cabinet secretaries and agency directors all strongly support a major increase in youth engagement. Nearly half of all land managers are of retirement age, even as their agencies prioritize long-neglected maintenance projects. And America’s youth face record unemployment and daunting prospects as they attempt to enter a green economy.”

Coalition leaders say engaging young people in service programs with dual vocational and academic tracks will result in more qualified, committed and diverse entry level employees for resource management agencies. The combination of short-term productivity improvements and long-term workforce development benefits make an expanded youth service program a powerful win-win, according to Coalition officials.

The Public Lands Service Coalition is dedicated to promoting youth service jobs and career development on public lands. The Coalition was founded by the Student Conservation Association, The Corps Network, and the Southwest Conservation Corps; member organizations represent millions of young people engaged in various types of service each year. The Public Lands Service Coalition consists of:

Steering Committee Members

American YouthWorks
Coconino Rural Environment Corps
Montana Conservation Corps
Nevada Conservation Corps
Southwest Conservation Corps
Student Conservation Association
Rocky Mountain Youth Corps (CO)
The Corps Network
Utah Conservation Corps

Partner Members

Colorado Youth Corps Association
National Parks Conservation Association
Sequoia Community Corps
Washington Conservation Corps

Supporting Members

Campfire USA
Civilian Conservation Corps Legacy
YMCA