Leaders of eight federal departments and agencies announced that they have signed an agreement setting up a national council to guide implementation of the Obama administration’s 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) – a national collaborative effort to put America’s youth and returning veterans to work protecting, restoring and enhancing America’s great outdoors.

By signing the Memorandum of Understanding finalized Jan. 10, the Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, and Labor, as well as the EPA Administrator, Chair of the President’s Council on Environmental Quality, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service and Assistant Secretary for the Army (Civil Works) established the National Council for the 21CSC—fully implementing the first recommendation of the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative introduced by President Obama in 2010.

“The President’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative is helping to connect Americans from all backgrounds with the recreational, economic and health benefits of our nation’s extraordinary natural resources,” said Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.  “The 21st Century Conservation Service Corps will help prepare the leaders of the future by providing youth with valuable opportunities for recreation, career development and service to their community and their Nation.”

The 21CSC focuses on helping young people – including diverse low-income, underserved and at-risk youth, as well as returning veterans – gain valuable training and work experience while accomplishing needed conservation and restoration work on public lands, waterways and cultural heritage sites. It builds on existing partnerships with youth conservation corps across the country to engage thousands of young Americans in hands-on service and job training experiences on public lands and community green spaces, the Obama administration suggested.

"Our federal lands and waters are vital to the health and well-being of Americans,” said Jo Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army (Civil Works), who oversees the Corps of Engineers. “The 21CSC will expand the Corps’ capacities to conserve and maintain these areas, and provide youth and veterans with meaningful work, education and exposure to the outdoors."

For additional information on the 21CSC, visit: http://www.doi.gov/21csc