Interior Department Selects Salt Lake City as Priority City to Connect Youth to the Great Outdoors

Part of Nationwide Commitment to Inspire Young People to Play, Learn, Serve, and Work on Public Lands

SALT LAKE CITY –-(ENEWSPF)–August 6, 2015.  As part of the Interior Department’s leadership of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Outside initiative to engage the next generation of outdoor stewards and inspire millions of young adults to experience the great outdoors, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today joined Mayor Ralph Becker, Vice President and General Manager of American Express Salt Lake City Victor Ingalls, and President and CEO of the YMCA of Northern Utah Rich West to announce the selection of Salt Lake City as one of the first 50 cities to participate in the nationwide movement.

The initiative, funded as part of a $5 million national commitment by the American Express Foundation, will provide two years of funding for the YMCA of Northern Utah to create a community coordinator position to facilitate collaboration, grow resources, and increase participation in outdoor programs on all public lands in Salt Lake City, from local parks to federal lands and waters. The funding will also support efforts to engage young adults and veterans to serve on the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps and engage new volunteers during next year’s National Park Service Centennial. Today, Secretary Jewell announced grants totaling $258,653 to organizations throughout Utah, including the Utah Conservation Corps, Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, River Restoration Adventures for Tomorrow, and American Conservation Experience.

“When young people are given an opportunity to care for public lands, their experiences often inspire lifetime connections to their backyard parks and beyond,” said Secretary Jewell. “Volunteering opens doors to new and exciting career opportunities that can transform the personal lives of youth while benefiting the communities and special places they work to improve.”

“Salt Lake City is home to one of the most beautiful natural settings in the country and we couldn’t be more thrilled by this news,” said Mayor Ralph Becker. “Our children benefit enormously from spending more time in nature, and this new funding will help us expand our work in Salt Lake City to help increase the amount of time our kids spend outdoors.”

“Community service and historic preservation have a long heritage at American Express,” said Victor Ingalls, American Express Vice President and General Manager in Salt Lake City. “Since our founding more than 160 years ago, American Express has seen how America’s parks and public lands contribute to our sense of national and local identity, and we are proud to lead an effort to mobilize a new generation of volunteers to protect, conserve and revitalize America’s public lands and treasured national parks.”

“Many people in our urban neighborhoods don’t always have the chance to experience all that our public lands in and around the city have to offer,” said Rich West, President and CEO of the YMCA of Northern Utah. “This initiative will help us bring together leaders in conservation, education, recreation and service to provide opportunities to deepen connections to these natural and historic sites, develop important skills, and engage in activities where they can give back and strengthen our community.”

The Department of the Interior is leading First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Outside initiative getting millions of young people to play, learn, serve and work in America’s great outdoors. This past March, Secretary Jewell announced this partnership with the American Express Foundation and kicked-off the first cities across the country to be a part of this movement. Salt Lake City is the most recent addition to a coalition of 26 cities that will be announced in 2015. The remaining cities will be identified and announced in 2016. For more information about the initiative, visit: www.doi.gov/youth.

This work is part an overall strategy by the Obama Administration to connect young people to the outdoors. Other efforts include the President’s recently announced Every Kid in A Park initiative to provide all fourth grade students and their families with free admission to national parks and other public lands and waters for a full year, and the National Park Service’s Find Your Park campaign preparing for next year’s centennial of the National Park System.

Source: www.doi.gov