The Conference has ended. It was exciting to follow along and provide updates. A complete transcript of President Obama’s opening remarks can be seen here. C&NN Vice President and co-founder Martin LeBlanc, who is at the conference, wrote, “My main observation is that connecting children to the outdoors is fundamental to every Conservation priority the Obama Administration has.”
9:00 (EDT) Interior Secretary Salazar is delivering opening remarks. The conference is off to a timely start.
9:10 Many of my fondest memories took place outside — Chair of White House Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley.
9:25 “Our open spaces have inspired our artists and encouraged our pioneers.” –E.P.A. Secretary Lisa Jackson
9:30 Attendees are watching a video about the outdoors. Theodore Roosevelt: These are “our essential democracy”.
9:35 Video: “Our children spend half as much time outside as their parents once did.”
10:15 President Obama is addressing the conference.
10:20 President Obama: Theodore Roosevelt “stood in awe of the geysers at Yellowstone. He camped in a snow blizzard at Yosemite. He stood on the lip of the Grand Canyon.” … “From that commitment sprang a breathtaking legacy of conservation that enhances our lives.” … “I do intend to enrich that legacy and I feel an abiding bond with the land.”
President Obama: “When we see America’s land, we understand what an incredible bounty that we have been given. And it’s our obligation to make sure that the next generation enjoys that same bounty.”
10:23 President Obama is outlining American Great Outdoors Initiative. Evoking National Parks and Land Trusts.
10:25 President Obama: “We’ll help families spend more time outdoors, building on what the First Lady has done through the Let’s Move initiative to encourage young people to hike and bike and get outside more often.”
“We want to foster a new generation of community and urban parks so that children across America have the chance to experience places like Millennium Park in my own Chicago.”
10:30 President Obama signed a memo creating a Great Outdoors Initiative.
10:30 There is a break in the action.
11:15 Panel 1 about to begin: Conserving working lands for the benefit of all Americans.
11:35 Writer and historian Douglas Brinkley: “What would Secy. Udall do?”
11:55 Agriculture Secy. Vilsack is asking the panel if our increased urbanization presents challenges to conservation.
11:58 The conference is addressing the urban/rural connection and its role as far as land and fresh food.
12:00 Jaime Pinkham, Vice President of the Archibald Bush Foundation: “We are all connected by the rivers … salmon know no political boundaries.”
Ray McCormick, Indiana Farmer and Conservationist: “If there is no longer a bobwhite quail, there isn’t going to be a little boy following it (down to a stream.)”
12:10 Newark Mayor Cory Booker is talking about community gardens and urban farmlands as a way of connecting children to their food sources. He notes that some underserved children don’t recognize pictures of vegetables.
12:20 Panel’s closing remarks: Douglas Brinkley: “We have to do this for our children’s children.”
Mayor Booker spoke about a person “tending to his piece of the earth”, which “transformed a major area of our city” and was indicative of “realizing that life is about small acts of kindness, decency and love.”
12:40 Panel 2 is beginning: Connecting Lands and People. Teddy Roosevelt IV is addressing the group.
12:40 NM Governor Bill Richardson is addressing the conference, calling for Wilderness Bill, moving ahead on National Monuments plan. “We must seek agreements with first Americans.”
Governor Richardson spoke to habitat preservation on land and in the oceans. He also spoke about the issue of privatization: “Tracts of private land are being carved into the habitat. There are new roads and unbridled development.”
1:00 REI CEO Sally Jewell just mentioned Richard Louv’s “Last Child in Woods” and Nature-Deficit Disorder, noting that acclaimed nature photographer Ansel Adams was a child who needed to be in nature rather than learning in a traditional environment.
1:10 Ernesto Pepito, Youth Program Director at Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, is talking about caring for community as first step to caring for environment: Is academic pressure keeping kids from getting into the outdoors? “My presence here is a signal of our willingness to engage young people in this issue.” But, We need to give more young people “a giant blue chair” on the stage.
1:15 Like Ernesto Pepito, Sally Jewell also just addressed screen time and academic pressure as competition for children’s time in nature. As business leaders, “We have an opportunity to connect people to nature close to home.”
1:20 Governor Richardson suggested reinstating a Civilian Conservation Corps (and received applause.)
1:22 Secy. Salazar asked: How do we bring young people into the outdoors?
Gary Myers, Former Executive Director of Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency: Get them hunting and fishing early.
Ernesto Pepito: I didn’t grow up loving America’s great outdoors. It was a simple introduction through summer employment that engaged me in this lifelong work. I believe young people can still be inspired by .. going outdoors .. having a park that is safe, having a garden so they can know where their food comes from.” “We get caught up in restoring this land, but forget who this land is being restored for.” Ernesto Pepito called for everyone to have true relationships with young people to engage them one-on-one.
Ernesto Pepito: “We need to change the culture of how people engage youth.”
Gary Myers expressed delight that we have a President who supports conservation and youth involvement.
Bill Cronin: “We have to get people to all parts of the land” – urban, rural, etc. Ask, “How can your organization give kids the idea that they are changing the world?”
1:30 Sally Jewell is talking about individual connections to the land, through Youth Conservation Corps. and others. “There’s no better thing that we could be working on.”
1:35 Gov. Richardson: “I have seen strong integration of minorities into the conservation movement.”
1:40 Secy. Salazar joked: As part of Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, we have canceled lunch.
1:45 Secy. Salazar’s closing remarks included: “Our work has just begun. Results matter. We will get it done.”