Public lands throughout the U.S. will receive even greater attention in coming years from the people who cherish them thanks to the re-establishment of the Take Pride in America program, administered by the U.S. Department of Interior.
The program was officially relaunched today (April 16) during a press conference by Interior Secretary Gale Norton at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Take Pride in America seeks to engage volunteers in protecting public lands and to extend to all Americans the educational and recreational opportunities available on and through those lands.
The renewed effort has four core purposes:
• To encourage stewardship and responsibility toward public lands.
• To promote participation in caring for public lands.
• To inform the public about the legacy all Americans share of parks, forests and other public lands.
• To ensure that every American child is afforded an introduction to the shared legacy of the Great Outdoors, either through family or through organizations ranging from scouts to schools.
The program is part of President Bush’s USA Freedom Corps initiative to create an American culture of service to others. President Bush has called on all Americans to commit at least two years over the course of their lives (the equivalent of 4,000 hours) to service to their communities. The Bush administration renewed the Take Pride program to bring focus to volunteerism on public lands.
“Take Pride in America will empower volunteers from every corner of America to restore and improve our parks, refuges recreation areas and cultural and historical sites. The program inspires citizen stewardship through a bold and innovative public communication campaign. Outstanding volunteer efforts are rewarded with presidential recognition,” Norton said.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) joined more than 100 companies, organizations and trade associations that signed up as charter partners with the new Take Pride effort to promote volunteer service on public lands.
RV owners were among the most enthusiastic volunteers during the original Take Pride in America program, according to the RVIA. Their continued enthusiasm for it was apparent during the RV industry’s Grassroots Coalition of RV owners’ aggressive letter-writing campaign in 2001 that played a key role in encouraging the Bush administration to renew the effort.
“Public lands are ‘public’ and it is our right and responsibility to protect them,” said RVIA President Dave Humphreys. “RV owners care deeply about preserving for future generations the things that they have enjoyed during their lives, thus it is no surprise that they were so involved in the re-establishment of Take Pride in America.”
The program also will enhance access to volunteer opportunities through the Internet. Federal, state and local government agencies will be able to offer Take Pride in America volunteer opportunities through the USA Freedom Corps Volunteer Network at www.usafreedomcorps.gov.
Corporations, groups and citizens interested in becoming involved in the Take Pride in America program can access these opportunities as well as find ideas and suggestions at www.takepride.gov.