U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell wants young Americans to spend more time outdoors. She spoke to members of the Outdoor Industry Association on Thursday about ways to pay for the initiative.
Secretary Jewell says tight federal budgets have been a challenge. She wants to raise 20 million dollars through public private partnerships to draw kids outdoors for learning and recreation. Jewell is a former chief executive of the outdoor retailer, REI. She says her former business colleagues already see what’s at stake for the $646 billion dollar industry as young people drift away from outdoor experiences. Jewell says kids might be plugged into electronic devices for much of the day, but they are also ready for more.
“They care about making a difference. I want to give them a path to be able to do this. I want to get many more young people engaged in service to public lands, through the Conservation Corps, through volunteerism and through young children playing on public lands, learning from them. Nature’s classroom is the best classroom. It’s the classroom with no walls,” says Jewell.
Ashley Korenblat is a Moab-based bike outfitter who says partnerships like the ones Jewell is promoting are a big hit in her community.
“There are many ways to get locals involved, to have local control over federal land projects, that don’t always involve an act of Congress. So she’s going down the right road now, and we’re excited to see her progress,” says Korenblat.
About 22,000 people are at the Salt Palace Convention Center this week for the Outdoor Retailers winter trade show.