Bright and early Sunday morning, I joined two of my Administration colleagues in the middle of New York City's Central Park for an event focused on the best way to involve young people in the President's America's Great Outdoors Initiative. We had beautiful weather with a crowd of more than 500 young leaders from all 50 states! This was the first Outdoor Nation Youth Summit and the energy from the diverse and enthusiastic crowd inspired all of us.
Throughout the session we heard a ton of great ideas about how to strengthen the voice of youth in developing a 21st century conservation agenda and engage in opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. We talked about using texting and social media to set up outdoor games of capture-the-flag in local parks. There were also discussions about the challenges of ensuring safety in some urban parks, and about why designated recess time ends in middle school. Many of the participants recalled the lasting impressions left by educational programs or camps that hooked them into outdoor activities and ingrained in them a respect for nature.
All in all, we gleaned some really interesting ideas from these youth leaders. I am excited about participating in future events that will continue this conversation and lead to great ideas for America's Great Outdoors!
Amy Salzman is the Associate Director for Policy Outreach at the White House Council on Environmental Quality