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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Federal Agencies Announce National Council to Build 21st Century Conservation Corps

Leaders of eight federal departments and agencies today announced that they have signed an agreement setting up a national council to guide implementation of the Obama Administration’s 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) – a national collaborative effort to put America’s youth and returning veterans to work protecting, restoring and enhancing America’s great outdoors. By signing the Memorandum of Understanding finalized today, the Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, and Labor, as well as the EPA Administrator, Chair of the President’s Council on Environmental Quality, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service and Assistant Secretary for the Army (Civil Works) established the National Council for the 21CSC—fully implementing the first recommendation of the America’s Great Outdoors initiative introduced by President Obama in 2010.

The 21CSC focuses on helping young people – including diverse low-income, underserved and at-risk youth, as well as returning veterans – gain valuable training and work experience while accomplishing needed conservation and restoration work on public lands, waterways and cultural heritage sites. It builds on existing partnerships with youth conservation corps across the country to engage thousands of young Americans in hands-on service and job training experiences on public lands and community green spaces.

 The USDA Forest Service’s focus on expanding youth engagement opportunities resulted in an investment of more than $18 million in FY 2012 on programs and partnerships that provided volunteer, service and employment opportunities on national forests and grasslands for nearly 10,000 young people.

Creating the National Council was a key recommendation from the Federal Advisory Committee in support of outdoor youth engagement announced by Secretaries Salazar and Vilsack in December 2011. Composed of representatives of the nation’s conservation, service and workforce development groups, along with representatives from federal agencies, this committee was charged with advising the federal agencies on how to build on the important ongoing work of local, state, federal and non-profit youth conservation corps. Within their six-month deadline, the committee provided Salazar and Vilsack with guidance on a framework for the Conservation Service Corps’ vision, principles and strategies.

The National Council will work across the federal government to support the 21CSC by enhancing partnerships with existing youth corps programs around the nation; stimulating existing and new public-private partnerships; and aligning the investment of current federal government resources. Members will be represented on the National Council by members of the senior leadership of each agency, bureau or office. The National Council will initially be co-chaired by representatives from the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture, for a one-year term, after which the two co-chair positions will be chosen from among the National Council members by consensus.

For a copy of the MOU, visit: http://on.doi.gov/UZma3a
For additional information on the 21CSC, visit: http://www.doi.gov/21csc 

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