In this day and age, it’s not uncommon to see the future of our workforce, our children, becoming highly dependent on technology to the point they are hardly active outdoors. With smartphones and tablets vying for our children’s attention with the latest app or game craze, it’s no wonder kids aren’t putting the phones and tablets down to go outside to play, learn, and ultimately gain career readiness.
You might be wondering how getting our kids outdoors to play would be tied to eventual career readiness. Recently, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, began to formalize her initiative to link America’s children to the outdoors in an effort to increase the number of educational, recreational, and volunteer and career opportunities related to public lands.
Getting our children interested in the outdoors will help foster an increase in professionals to care for natural and cultural resources for future generations to come. This could include professions as scientists, biologists, conservation leaders, park managers, and tribal experts. The specific goal of Secretary Jewell’s initiative focuses on a four-year plan that hits on the areas of playing, learning, serving, and working as follows:
- Playing would consist of creating or improving partnerships with outdoor recreation establishments in 50 cities.
- Learning would help provide educational prospects during the four-year plan to approximately ten million students each year between kindergarten and twelfth grade by reinforcing online educational resources.
- Serving would employ about a million volunteers annually on public lands such as national parks and wildlife refuges, which are three times as many volunteers as we have now. Although there is often a plethora of folks interested in volunteering, it’s been a challenge with the number of staff to coordinate the volunteers, so there will be increased importance placed on volunteer coordination and management.
- Working would focus on developing our next generation of conservation curators and the outdoor workforce pipeline by providing approximately 100,000 work and training prospects to young folks through public-private partnerships with the goal set at raising about $20 million to support these work and training opportunities.
In order for this initiative to be successful; however, parents and teachers will need to help support it by not only encouraging children to put down the electronic gadgets and participate in more outdoor activities, but by also helping to create partnerships and opportunities that support this initiative.