May 23, 2013 | Portland, OR
The U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced Thursday afternoon that $4.2 million will fund 22 conservation projects this year across the western United States -- including three projects in Oregon that will create 50-55 summer jobs for youth.
The Secretary shared the news in Sellwood Park, speaking before local leaders, government officials, and Intertwine Alliance partners, including Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith, and Jeff Parker, Executive Director of Northwest Youth Corps.
After her announcement, the Secretary singled out Intertwine Alliance founder Mike Houck, of the Urban Greenspaces Institute, to commend him for 43 years of conservation advocacy.
Following the announcement, over a dozen Northwest Youth Corps members, armed with shovels and gloves, joined the Secretary for a hearty round of weed-pulling.
Local leaders say the funds, which largely come from the nonprofit National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, will provide many youth with their first real job. Developed by the Dept. of Interior and NFWF as part of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors program, the project aims to build a "21st Century Conservation Service Corps" by expanding youth employment opportunities on public lands. Local partners in the project include the Port of Portland, Johnson Creek Watershed Council, the Bureau of Land Management, and Wells Fargo.
The innovative public-private partnership also represents a response to high national unemployment rates for youth, which reached 16.2 percent this spring -- more than twice the national average.