Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Take Pride in America Strengthens Public Lands Stewardship

Secretary of the Interior, Dirk Kempthorne, signed an order yesterday extending the authorization of Take Pride in America within the Department of the Interior through the year 2010. The program, designed to encourage volunteerism on public lands, had been set to expire on November 1, 2008.

The secretarial order further solidifies three strategic Take Pride in America priorities: engaging youth in service, promoting voluntourism and supporting beautification as an economic development strategy.

Secretary Kempthorne signed the order at a ceremony recognizing the volunteer efforts of students from Hyattsville Elementary in Hyattsville, Md., and others from across the country.

“These young people know what it’s like to feel pride in a job well done and just as important, they were outdoors the whole time,” said Secretary Kempthorne of the students from Hyattsville Elementary, a Take Pride in America school. The students recently participated in “Gorgeous Prince George’s Day,” beautifying their school grounds.

Scott Wilson of Big Sky, Mont., who also attended the signing ceremony, recently voluntoured along the Appalachian Trail. While hiking a distance of 2,175 miles, Wilson collected nearly 3,000 scraps of litter, and at times, carried the garbage up to 50 miles before finding a trash receptacle where he could dispose of it properly. Voluntourism is a concept that combines volunteer service into a vacation.

“Scott’s ‘Leave No Trace’ efforts improved more than 2,000 miles of trail, and enriched the experience for those hikers who followed. I am proud to recognize Scott’s meaningful voluntourism,” Kempthorne said.

Two volunteers from Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park were also recognized at the ceremony for calling attention to a pending breach in the canal’s towpath while on bike patrol. Thanks to Barbara Brown and Jane Collins, the area was properly cordoned off just a day before flood waters caused a 100-foot section to crumble, sending water 60 feet below into the Potomac River.

“Here’s an example where volunteers were the eyes and ears of park staff. It just shows how vital volunteers are to our public lands,” Kempthorne said.

Take Pride in America® is a national partnership program authorized by Congress and administered within the Department of the Interior to promote the appreciation and stewardship of public lands, including parks, forests, historic sites, and schools. Take Pride is active in all fifty states, has partnerships with public, private, and nonprofit organizations, and features Clint Eastwood as national spokesman. Citizen stewards know and count on Take Pride for the most comprehensive online portal of public lands volunteer opportunities ( and for showcasing the most outstanding public lands stewardship activities through the annual national award ceremony.