This week, I had the opportunity to explore a part of the Washington, DC area that is sometimes overlooked. I joined Wilderness Inquiry, a Minneapolis-based organization, and partners from other Federal agencies and local organizations to experience the Anacostia River by canoe. We left the Kenilworth Playing Fields bright and early Thursday morning, on a perfect November day. In addition to the beautiful fall colors and smooth water, we saw great blue heron and beaver as we paddled up the river and crossed the Maryland state line.
Wilderness Inquiry is one of many organizations across the country that works to introduce urban youth to the outdoors. During their time in Washington, DC they have been taking local kids canoeing on the Anacostia, as part of their goal of expanding their model to 20 cities. Wilderness Inquiry works with Federal, state, and local partners to create a successful program in their community in Minnesota. These types of partnerships can help build a local constituency to conserve waterways, wildlife, and landscapes at the community level. Here at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, we are working on President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to promote and support innovative community-level efforts to conserve outdoor spaces and to reconnect Americans to the outdoors. The President has made it clear that one of his priorities is to engage young people, especially those who live in our Nation’s cities, and to find ways to get them outdoors to experience our unique natural heritage.
Jack Shapiro is the Deputy Associate Director for Policy Outreach at the White House Council on Environmental Quality