The U.S. Forest Service today awarded a half-million dollars in matching funds to mobilize our nation’s most important conservation resource: kids. The funds will be used to get more kids outside, up close and personal with nature so they can have fun, get dirty, get healthy and learn!
Gail Kimbell, Chief of the Forest Service, announced awards to 16 Forest Service project leaders and their partners from around the country. The awards plus matching funds by partners will top $2 million. Partners in these projects represent schools, environmental and youth non-profit organizations, Native American Tribes, and other federal, state and local governments. The projects will help urban and rural children connect to the land in a hands-on way.
“The Forest Service and its partners want to help kids understand the natural world and to know how important wildlands are to their quality of life. By getting outdoors, kids will learn that forests and rangelands provide clean air, clean water and a multitude of goods and services for their benefit and for the benefit of future generations, and learn the conservation of these lands is important. These projects will encourage kids to experience the great outdoors, whether it is a remote mountain wilderness or a spot of nature in the heart of a city,” said Chief Kimbell.
More than 270 proposals were considered for the awards. The Forest Service sought proposals focused on underserved and urban youth; recreation and environmental stewardship; solid, broad-based partnerships; and innovative techniques. Funding will help with costs such as transportation, supplies, tools and safety equipment to ensure a healthy learning experience. While many of the projects will take place on national forests, others will bring nature to children in their schoolyards and community green spaces.
The Forest Service has a long history of working with teachers, youth groups and others educating children about the natural environment. This year’s funding for More Kids in the Woods continues that tradition by helping children be better prepared in the future to care for the land as they cope with climate change, demographic changes, and increasing demands for clean air, clean water and other benefits from nature.
The mission of the Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.