SELLS, ARIZ.—Today, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva joined leaders of the Tohono O’odham Nation and representatives of the U.S. Conservation Corps to celebrate the establishment of the Indian Youth Corps Program. The recently passed 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act in March 2019 authorized the Indian Youth Corps program and prioritizes the engagement of Native and disadvantaged youth in Conservation Service Corps programs—putting thousands of youth to work in jobs that support recreation, conservation, and the environmental economy of both rural and urban communities.
“For over a decade, I’ve worked to get this legislation enacted, and I’m proud it is finally a reality,” said Rep. Grijalva, Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee. “As Chair, it is important to me that we remember the connection between Native peoples and their land. To ensure this connection – conservation is key. This legislation recognizes that nexus between tradition and conservation, it reinforces its importance, and helps train the next generation of tribal youth in developing conservation and sustainability habits on tribal lands and beyond. After meeting the Tohono O’odham Youth Council, I know our future is in good hands.”
Following remarks, members of the Tohono O’odham Youth Council and the Corps Network, a conservation service organization, worked with the Tohono O’odham Nation waste management department and Natural Resources department to sorted through recycling.
“This new program gives our young people and Native youth around the country the tools they need to conserve the environment right in their own communities,” said Chairman Edward Manuel of the Tohono O’odham Nation. “Respect for the land and the responsibility to preserve it have always been important O’odham values passed from generation to generation. Thanks to this legislation, our young people now have the opportunity to put those values into practice on a scale that was not previously possible, while developing skills for a successful career in conservation.”
The 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act was included in the recently passed John B. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, a sweeping bipartisan public lands package that permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund and protects nearly 2.4 million acres of public land from mining.
“Indigenous communities have long led the way when it comes to responsible and compassionate stewardship of the land. That’s why working with native communities and the next generation of tribal leadership is essential to learning how we can best preserve and protect our public lands,” said Congressman Ruben Gallego, Chairman of the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States. “The establishment of a new Indian Youth Corps program is an opportunity to engage in that important work while providing opportunities for leadership and job skills development to native youth. I’m proud to support the expansion of this important program to tribal nations, especially those who call Arizona home.”
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