America’s Great Outdoors

This past weekend I travelled San Fransisco and Berkeley for The North Face to take part in the America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) Listening Session.   The AGO is an initiative established on April 16, 2010 by President Obama “to promote and support innovative community-level efforts to conserve outdoors spaces and reconnect Americans with the outdoors”.   I joined 30 youth leaders for a service project at the Chrissy Field Center in San Fransisco and then participated in a discussion/presentation in Berkeley involving over 200 Bay Area youth ages 16-25.  We discussed strategies for connecting youth to the outdoors and educating young Americans about sustainability and conservation.  We also came up with several recommendations for the Obama Administration to facilitate such goals and presented them to the Department of the Interior’s Assistant Secretary, the Associate Deputy Chief of the Forest Service, and the Deputy Director of the National Park Service.

View of the Golden Gate Bridge from Chrissy Field Park

The group at Chrissy Field Center

The Service Project: "Invasive Plant Removal"

The view of Alcatraz from Chrissy Field

Our strategies included:  restructuring the education system in order to emphasize outdoor activity and participation (i.e. more school gardens and outdoor field trips); utilizing the media/advertising to increase public awareness (commercials advertising national parks), and providing goverment funding for Non profit organizations who are already doing the job of promoting and making the outdoors accessible to Americans.

The Listening Panel - members from the Obama Administration

The entire event was extremely well-organized and enjoyable to be a part of.  The youth speakers were passionate and enthusiatic, eager to have their thoughts heard by members of the Obama Administration; who listened intently to what these young leaders had to say.  It is inspiring to see such concern for outdoor participation within the current government administration.  They were certainly gracious and receptive to the recommendations, concerns, and even criticisms we had to offer; but only time will tell whether or not they can follow through and act on this new initiative.  It is a step in the right direction for sure………

Another collaboration mural thanks to Renan Ozturk

The mural we made for President Obama

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2 responses to “America’s Great Outdoors

    • Not in my group, but it may have come up in others’. There were hundreds of young people there and we were all broken up into a smaller groups. My group consisted of primarily inner city kids who, despite their close proximity to Yosemite Valley, had never been there and knew little about it – all the more reason to be having these discussions! Hetch Hetchy Valley is a prime example of an environmental controversy that deserves attention and awareness. Thanks for the note!

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