Plans Announced for Revitalized Take Pride in America Program

Washington, D.C. — Marti Allbright, the new Executive Director of Take Pride in America, outlined her plans for the federal government’s recently revitalized stewardship and volunteerism program during a meeting with recreation community leaders. Ms. Allbright, who was named to the position in late June by Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, spoke at the American Recreation Coalition’s Recreation Exchange gathering. The original Take Pride in America program was begun during the Reagan Administration and continued until 1993. The program’s relaunch was announced by Secretary Norton in April of this year.

Emphasizing that the country’s public lands, historic sites and cultural resources belong to the American people, not the government, Ms. Allbright told the group that the message of Take Pride in America is "This Is Your Land." "These are our lands to enjoy," she said, "but we have a responsibility to take care of them." Ms. Allbright acknowledged that many excellent volunteer programs already existed and stated firmly that she was not interested in either "reinventing the wheel" or creating another level of bureaucracy. "We are trying to build public awareness of stewardship messages,” she said, "and then encourage volunteers." She also explained that while some federal agency volunteer programs in particular were more focused on long-term commitments, Take Pride was interested in encouraging people who lack the time for longer-term or full-time volunteer commitments to become involved in short-term events and service projects. Marti Allbright, Executive Director of Take Pride in America.

As part of its effort to encourage stewardship and volunteerism, Ms. Allbright announced that Take Pride in America would be recognizing volunteers with special awards based on hours of service. She reminded the group that President Bush had asked all Americans to donate 4,000 hours of volunteer service over their lifetime and announced that those stewardship volunteers who had reached that goal would receive Presidential recognition. Three thousand hours would merit an award from the Secretary of the Interior, while 2,000 hours would be recognized at the agency level. In addition, events and projects staged or completed in 2002 would be recognized in such categories as "Best Corporate Program," "Best Civic Program," or "Best Private/Public Partnership." The awards are slated to be presented in late September or early October and the entry deadline is July 31, 2003. The application can be found on the Take Pride in America Web site (http://www.takepride.gov).

Asked how she planned to reach young people with the stewardship and volunteerism message, Ms. Allbright reported that both she and Secretary Norton were very committed to bringing young people into the program. She explained that they were looking at having Take Pride in America "camps" by next summer that would introduce urban children to camping experiences. "I think it’s important for these kids," she said. Absent such experiences, she asked, when these children grow up, why would they care about public lands or stewardship or maintenance backlogs?

Ms. Allbright also acknowledged the limitations of public-service announcements and Web sites as a means of reaching the public with the Take Pride message. Instead, she reported, she is looking for partners who will help spread the word about the program in other creative ways. "I don’t want to raise taxes to do this," she said. "I want to take advantage of what is already there. . . . It’s about everybody working together to Take Pride in America."

The Recreation Exchange series is made possible by the following sponsors:

American Association for Nude Recreation
American Horse Council
American Motorcyclist Association
Bureau of Land Management
Bureau of Reclamation
Family Campers and RVers
Honda North America
Kampgrounds of America
Motorcycle Industry Council
National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds
National Marine Manufacturers Association
National Park Service
National Recreation and Park Association
Personal Watercraft Industry Association PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association
Recreation Vehicle Industry Association
Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association
Strat@comm
USDA Forest Service