AEO Pledges $1M to Support CCC 2.0
On January 8th, at the memorial dedicated to the president who founded the Civilian Conservation Corps, SCA members and alumni joined U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in announcing a $1 million pledge from American Eagle Outfitters to launch the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps.
A longtime partner of SCA, American Eagle Outfitters has already made life-changing outdoor experiences possible for thousands of students in SCA’s Alternative Spring Break and Hurricane Sandy Recovery programs. Now AEO is stepping up as the first corporate partner in a public-private partnership that aims to engage 1 million volunteers and provide conservation training opportunities to 100,000 youth across the country each year.
AEO’s $1 million donation will help fund the work of SCA and other conservation corps programs across the US. In announcing the 21CSC initiative, Secretary Jewell recognized SCA as a leader in the youth conservation movement, and an important partner going forward. “The Student Conservation Association was a pioneer 57 years ago,” said Secretary Jewell, “and it has inspired many, many other youth conservation corps around the country. So the work of SCA as a partner with us in our National Parks and other public lands has been critical.”
SCA members and alumni were excited to be out on the National Mall to witness the Secretary’s historic announcement. Bundled up against the single-digit temperatures, students filled the audience as Secretary Jewell spoke about the importance of youth engagement in the outdoors. “These young people,” the Secretary said, gesturing to the ranks of SCA members who stood behind her, “are getting a taste for what we, as human beings, long for… a connection to nature and the outdoors that feeds the soul. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to know that there are students like these all over the country making a difference in our public lands.”
After the announcement, Secretary Jewell led the students on a walking tour of the memorial, then invited four SCA members – along with SCA founder Liz Titus Putnam and President Dale Penny – back to her office at the Department of the Interior for lunch. “Having lunch with Secretary Jewell was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Tai Schroeder, a three-time alum of SCA now studying zoology at the University of Wisconsin. “We talked about our experiences with the outdoors and what sparked our interest in environmentalism. I learned that no matter what age you are you can make an impact.”
Jeremy Taitaino, an alum of SCA’s community crews now majoring in biology at Temple University, agreed. “Youth are the most important part of the conservation movement … We are the people who are going to be running this country in the future, so if we get involved in conservation early, we can really make a difference.”
Read the press release from the US Department of the Interior.
See the Video on Secretary Jewell’s Announcement