Partnership Announces Initiative to Connect New Americans to Public Lands

Washington, D.C. (July 10, 2008) The White House Office of USA Freedom Corps, Department of Homeland Security’s Task Force on New Americans, National Park Service and American Recreation Coalition announced the creation of a public-private partnership to connect new citizens to America’s public lands. The initiative – named This Land Is Your Land – will coordinate public and private efforts to engage new Americans in volunteerism on public lands. The initiative also created the New Americans Outreach Task Force, which aims to draw newly naturalized citizens to National Parks and other public lands.

This Land Is Your Land was unveiled on July 7, 2008 at a special naturalization ceremony in Ellis Island’s Great Hall where 20 new citizens from 15 countries took the Oath of Allegiance within sight of the Statue of Liberty. Cokie Roberts, broadcast journalist and member of the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation, led the event and encouraged the new Americans to vote and to volunteer on public lands. She specifically challenged them to volunteer 100 hours to earn the President’s Volunteer Service Award during their first year of citizenship. Alison Young, Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of USA Freedom Corps (USAFC), asked the new citizens to answer the President’s 2002 national Call to Service that created USAFC. “It is our hope that through this new partnership, USA Freedom Corps can create an eagerness among new Americans to engage in volunteer opportunities in the great outdoors and to enjoy the grandeur of our National Parks,” said Young.

ARC Urges No Delays In America The Beautiful Volunteer Pass

The American Recreation Coalition (ARC) urged federal officials to act quickly to implement provisions of the of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act of 2004 directing federal agencies to issue a National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass to volunteers "in exchange for significant volunteer services." In a letter to the Interior Department, ARC commented that, "It appeared to us at a recent Listening Session that agency representatives working on the issue do not share our enthusiasm for prompt implementation of this Congressional directive. We strongly believe that a Volunteer Pass should be an integral part of the America the Beautiful Pass from its inception, not deferred for future consideration."

Take Pride In America's Health: Volunteering as a Gateway to Physical Activity

Take Pride in America's Health: Volunteering as a Gateway to Physical Activity

John Librett, Michelle M. Yore, David M. Buchner and Thomas L. Schmid

A recent study found that volunteer programs may play a role in increasing levels of physical avtivity. In some cases volunteer programs may simultaneously improve individual health, benefit the environment and increase the public's opportunities for physical activity. Those who volunteer on environmental issues are 2.6 times more likely to meet physical activity recommendations as those who do not volunteer for these issues. Environmental projects such as maintaining trails, planting trees and cleaning parks, may be important for individual fitness because of their potential for high levels of physical activity.