Event included the announcement of a an AmeriCorps grant to engage 2,700 opportunity youth in conservation service over the next three years
WASHINGTON, DC – More than 200 volunteers engaged in trail restoration, landscaping, and other maintenance projects at and around Theodore Roosevelt Island in Washington, DC today for The Corps Network’s sixth annual, and largest to date, Great Outdoors Day of Service. Speakers at the kick-off for the event included Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt; Chief of the U.S. Forest Service Vicki Christiansen; Director of AmeriCorps Chester Spellman; and Superintendent of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, Charles Cuvelier. Senator Lisa Murkowski also attended to volunteer with members of her staff.
“Thousands of people volunteer every year to improve our public lands and National Parks,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “Today’s Great Outdoors Day of Service highlights the commitment made by so many to take care of our most iconic places, and I’m deeply appreciative of their efforts and that of The Corps Network.”
The Corps Network Great Outdoors Day of Service is an official event of Great Outdoors Month®, an annual observance in June to celebrate and encourage ways to enjoy America’s lands and waters. The purpose of the Great Outdoors Day of Service is to highlight the importance of national service and volunteerism on public lands through completing maintenance and improvement projects at an iconic park in the nation’s capital.
Activities at the 2019 Day of Service included repairing boardwalks; landscaping; cleaning stonework; litter abatement; and clearing brush along the Potomac Heritage Trail, Mt. Vernon Trail, and various trails on Theodore Roosevelt Island. Among other accomplishments, volunteers helped open sections of trail and boardwalk that were impassable and helped beautify the park’s iconic plaza.
Among the volunteers were more than 130 AmeriCorps members and other national service members from Service and Conservation Corps throughout the Mid-Atlantic.
During his remarks, Chester Spellman, Director of AmeriCorps announced that the Corporation for National and Community Service has approved The Corps Network for a $6.7 million AmeriCorps grant to continue The Corps Network’s Opportunity Youth Service Initiative. Over the next three years, the grant will annually engage 928 young people, primarily from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. These AmeriCorps members will serve across 17 states and focus on projects that improve public lands, trails, and waterways and promote energy efficiency.
“Conservation Corps bring two brilliant ideas together. They tap America’s greatest national resource – the energy and ingenuity of our people – to preserve our nation’s greatest natural resource – our precious parks, forest, and public lands,” said Director Spellman. “I am thrilled to be here today to celebrate Great Outdoors Month and I am very pleased to announce a major new AmeriCorps grant to expand conservation service opportunities for economically disadvantaged youth. I look forward to seeing what these young people will accomplish and how their lives will be transformed through service.”
“Thank you to the volunteers and Conservation Corps who joined us to not only complete important projects, but to showcase the importance of service on public lands. I also extend a sincere thank you to Secretary Bernhardt, Chief Christiansen, Director Spellman, and Sen. Murkowski for joining us in celebrating the role of volunteers and national service programs in the Great Outdoors,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President and CEO of The Corps Network. “Corps are proud to partner with resource managers to annually engage thousands of AmeriCorps members and other young people in conservation service. Through our AmeriCorps Opportunity Youth Service Initiative, we look forward to providing positions for even more young people to serve outdoors.”
The Day of Service comes at the end of Outdoor Stewardship Week, a social media campaign, led by The Corps Network, focused on celebrating outdoor service and raising awareness about ways everyone can help maintain the spaces that support our favorite outdoor pastimes.
The Day of Service was sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, and Delaware North, with additional support from Guest Services, Inc., DowntownDC, Parks Project, REI, and Nestle.
Member organizations of The Corps Network represented at the event included: American Conservation Experience; Appalachian Trail Conservancy; Civic Works; Delaware State Parks Veterans Conservation Corps; Earth Conservation Corps; Harpers Ferry Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center; Maryland Conservation Corps; Montgomery County Conservation Corps; PowerCorpsPHL; Student Conservation Association; and Virginia Service and Conservation Corps.