The Wilderness Society and the Partnership for 21st Century Conservation Corps Launch "Fifty for the 50th Campaign"

Washington, DC (June 24, 2014) – The Corps Network joined The Wilderness Society today to launch the Fifty for the 50th Campaign to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. This campaign will, through the Partnership for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC), employ youth and veterans across the country in 50 conservation projects in 50 wild places. Project locations include places such as Gates of the Mountains Wilderness in Montana, Candlestick Point State Park in San Francisco, and Bladensburg Waterfront Park, just outside of Washington, DC.

The launch event featured a series of prominent speakers, as well as personal testimonies from various corpsmembers. Jamie Williams, President of The Wilderness Society, kicked-off the event, calling the campaign a “chance to give back to wild places.” Other speakers included Robert Bonnie, Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, Liz Close, Intermountain Region Director of Recreation, Heritage & Wilderness with the US Forest Service, Mary Ellen Sprenkel, Present & CEO of The Corps Network and Co-Chair of the Partnership for 21CSC, Jono McKinney, President & CEO of Montana Conservation Corps, and corpsmembers Michael Richter (MCC), Anthony “Chako” Ciacco (SWCC), Agnes Vianzon (CCC), and Priscilla Flores (CCC).

The Corps Network’s Mary Ellen spoke about the creation of the 21CSC and its “special effort to engage the next generation to care for these wild places.” The Corps Network’s membership currently includes around 100 programs that engage approximately 25,000 individuals a year. With 21CSC and campaigns such as the Fifty for the 50th Campaign, the goal is to increase that number to 100,000 people serving on public lands annually. Although ambitious, partnership is key and as Robert Bonnie of USDA mentioned, “the challenge is in the next 50 years where we must build the next generation of stewards and leaders.”

The Fifty for the 50th Campaign is the perfect way to promote the goals of 21CSC; when completed, the 50 projects will have improved or restored more than 40,000 acres, built 887 miles of trails, planted 325 acres of trees, and corpsmembers will have spent nearly 200,000 service hours on public lands.

The Fifty for 50th event was part of Great Outdoors America Week (GO Week), an annual event in Washington, DC that draws hundreds of people to celebrate, advocate, preserve, and enjoy the great outdoors! A list of events going on this week can be found here.

While celebrating the outdoors, be sure to take part in the Wilderness Society’s We Are The Wild campaign. This campaign is designed to promote and share a collective wilderness experience and inspire preservation. While at GO Week take a photo or video and post it to your social network with the hashtag #WeAreTheWild. The Wilderness Society will launch a digital hub in July at to share all the posts. Together we can build the next 50 years of wilderness!