Bureau of Land Management and Sierra Club partner with others to launch Latino youth environmental education program

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Eastern States, the Sierra Club, and other partners launched an environmental education program for Latino youth in a ceremony April 21, 2010 at the Meadowood Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA), Lorton, VA. The steady rain could not dampen the spirits of the partners who came together to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), confirming their commitment to provide opportunities for Latino youth to experience their natural world. Partners in the MOU are: The Sierra Club, Bureau of Land Management - Eastern States (BLM-ES), Cesar Chavez Schools, LULAC National Educational Service Centers, National Latino Coalition on Climate Change, Executive Office of the Mayor-Office on Latino Affairs, and the National Hispanic Environmental Council.The environmental education program features weekend outings at Meadowood SRMA for area youth, who must first write an essay about what they hope to learn from their camping weekend.Following the MOU signing ceremony, the partners planted a red bud tree. Pictured above, left to right: Isabel Long, Sierra Club; Juan Palma, BLM; Paul Elliott, Sierra Club; Richard Roybal, League of United Latin American Citizens.Background: The Sierra Club and the BLM-ES believe that the outdoor experience is a powerful one that can shape interest in the natural world in a positive way, providing a healthy and educational path to a better life. In addition to exposure to the natural world, an outdoor experience also introduces young people to careers in natural resources, science and conservation.Today's Latino youth will be some of the key future leaders that will help protect the pristine places around the country, lead efforts to conserve the natural resources of the planet and ensure our communities thrive in a healthy environment.The overall goals of this pilot project are to: 1) provide an outdoors experience to Latino urban youth who would otherwise be completely disconnected from nature because of social and economic disadvantages; 2) provide healthy lifestyle opportunities for the new generation of Latinos; and 3) diversify the conservation and environmental movement. We strongly believe that hands-on, experiential learning can lead to a lifetime of environmental stewardship. Participation in the Outings Project will be completely free for the youth participants, who will spend a weekend at Meadowood.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

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Davida Carnahan