First Lady, Vice President Biden, President Clinton, Among Dignitaries Joining SCA Members in Tree Planting at Kenilworth Park
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 21, 2009 -- Moments after signing the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, President Barack Obama put down his pen and picked up a shovel to spotlight volunteerism and stewardship with members of the Student Conservation Association (SCA), America's largest and oldest youth conservation corps.
Mr. Obama brought a star-studded service squad with him to Kenilworth Park, including First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill, and former President Bill Clinton. The President and his entourage teamed up with a dozen high school and college students from SCA's Washington, D.C. program to plant more than a dozen native maples, oaks, and sycamores. Kenilworth Park, situated along the east bank of the Anacostia River in the District of Columbia, is a unit of the National Park Service. This event was one of numerous other projects around the country that SCA is sponsoring to commemorate the 39th annual Earth Day.
"To have President Obama and these other dignitaries come from the bill signing to dig holes and plant trees with us on Earth Day eve is awesome. It's an inspiring statement about conservation service and environmental stewardship. I still can't believe I'm a part of it," said 20 year-old SCA alum Marcus Hendricks, an undergraduate at George Washington University. "Laws and policies are very important, but actions speak loudest of all."
The SCA volunteers presented Mr. Obama and the other leaders with SCA work vests and commemorative hard hats, along with an open invitation to join them on other conservation projects this summer.
"People my age know that volunteering in our parks and communities is the best way to protect our environment for the future," noted 18-year old Antica Howell, a Baltimore high school student. "It's also a lot of fun and a great way to make new friends. I never thought I'd be serving with the President of the United States, so that was just an added bonus!"
Since 1957, SCA interns and volunteers have provided wildlife management, habitat restoration, scientific research and other services to the National Park Service, USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs and other federal agencies, and recently forged a partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. SCA also provides conservation service and green jobs programs in nearly 20 municipalities including Detroit, Houston, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Washington, D.C.
"For more than a half century, SCA has connected young people from all over America to their natural and cultural heritage," states SCA President Dale Penny. "We are proud to join today with President Obama and these other national leaders to send a clear and powerful signal that the best way to keep the ‘public' in public lands is through ongoing hands-on service and stewardship."
In all, SCA fields more than 4,000 high school, college and graduate students in service positions each year and they, in turn, render more than two million hours of service annually. Some 60% of the organization's 50,000 alumni are active in the conservation profession or as volunteers, according to member surveys. The National Park Service estimates 12% of its workforce launched their careers through SCA apprenticeships.
The Student Conservation Association is a nationwide conservation force of college and high school students who protect and restore America's natural and cultural resources in all 50 states, from urban communities to national parks and forests. Since 1957, SCA's active, hands-on practice of conservation service has helped to develop a new generation of conservation leaders, inspire lifelong stewardship, and protect the planet. SCA's regional office in Washington, D.C. engages local teens in conservation service, environmental education and green job training. A nonprofit organization headquartered in Charlestown, NH, SCA is a proud partner of AmeriCorps and the National Corporation for National and Community Service. For more information, log on at thesca.org/about .