WASHINGTON, DC (February 27, 2013) – More than 200 college and university students will spend their spring breaks volunteering in some of our nation's greatest national parks – foregoing the traditional week at the beach. Students will improve park habitats and prepare for careers in an increasingly "green" economy by participating in all-expense-paid programs provided by the Student Conservation Association (SCA), including:
- Alternative Spring Break, sponsored by American Eagle Outfitters, which provides 120 students with hands-on week-long internships, including four workdays and a single day field trip with environmental education provided by national park rangers and others. Participants will train and camp on site, and all their travel and meals are underwritten by American Eagle Outfitters. Thirty students will participate each week at the following parks:
- Big Cypress National Preserve (Florida), March 3-9 and March 17-23
- Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (California), March 10-16 and March 24-30.
Alternative Spring Break is part of an expanded partnership between American Eagle Outfitters and SCA, which now, for the first time, involves in-store promotion of SCA activities in more than 800 American Eagle Outfitters stores as well as an online contest  enabling the public to determine which national park will benefit from the next project stemming from this six-year collaboration.
- NPS Academy, in partnership with the National Park Service, provides youth from diverse backgrounds with promising career paths. It introduces college students to professional opportunities within the Park Service and, in doing so, addresses two key NPS priorities: developing a workforce that reflects the broad diversity of American society, and engaging more youth in the great outdoors. Thirty students will attend each of the following week-long sessions:
- Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming), March 4-8, in cooperation with the Teton Science Schools, Grand Teton National Park Foundation, and Grand Teton Association
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park (North Carolina/Tennessee), March 11-17
- Kenai Fjords National Park (Alaska), March 11-17.
NPS Academy members will be introduced to a range of National Park Service careers through seminars, workshops, field trips, and recreational activities. After successfully completing the March course, participants will serve in SCA internships this summer at a variety of national parks to gain the skills and experience necessary to be eligible for employment with the NPS.
"The National Park Service estimates that 12% of its employees started their careers with SCA," notes SCA President & CEO Dale Penny. "NPS Academy is another way in which SCA provides college students with a proven pathway to professional opportunities, while helping our national parks build a more inclusive and relevant 21st century workforce."
Through Alternative Spring Break, NPS Academy, urban conservation programs and additional award-winning initiatives, SCA fosters an enduring ethic of stewardship among young adults aged 15-25. Founded in 1957, SCA has engaged more than 70,000 individuals in parks, forests and cities, and 60% of SCA alumni remain active conservationists through their careers and community activities.
"I want to preserve our national parks – the forests, mountains and lakes we all take refuge in," says Jessica Jia, a 19-year-old civil engineering major. "With this opportunity, I find myself at the doorstep of a career spent doing what I love – enjoying, preserving, and sharing the wonders of the outdoors. I can't wait to start!"
About American Eagle Outfitters, Inc.
American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. (NYSE: AEO) is a leading global specialty retailer offering high-quality, on-trend clothing, accessories and personal care products at affordable prices under its American Eagle Outfitters® and Aerie® brands. The company operates more than 1,000 stores in North America, and ships to 77 countries worldwide through its websites. American Eagle Outfitters and Aerie merchandise also is available at approximately 50 international franchise stores in 13 countries. For more information, please visit www.ae.com .
About the Student Conservation Association
The Student Conservation Association is the only national organization that develops tomorrow's conservation leaders by providing high school and college students with service opportunities in all 50 states, from urban communities to national parks and forests. More than 4,000 SCA members annually render over two million hours of service to America's public lands. Since 1957, SCA has helped to develop new generations of conservation leaders, inspire lifelong stewardship, and save the planet. SCA is headquartered in Washington, DC and maintains offices in Anchorage, AK, Boise, ID, Chicago, IL, Charlestown, NH, Oakland, CA, Pittsburgh, PA, and Seattle, WA. For more information, visit http://www.thesca.org .