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Youth Nationwide Get Outside and Celebrate Nature

March 31, 2010
Contact: Oliver Bernstein, Sierra Club, 512.289.8618

Get Outside Day! 2010 encourages hundreds of young leaders to declare their connection to the outdoors.

Washington, D.C. – This week, hundreds of young people across the nation are abandoning the couch, unplugging laptops, silencing cell phones and heading outdoors to celebrate the second annual Get Outside Day! on April 3, 2010. Throughout this week they are declaring themselves "Natural Leaders," youth who enjoy getting out in nature and want to encourage others to follow in their footsteps.

Get Outside Day! 2010 is presented by the Natural Leaders Network, which is empowering a worldwide youth movement to strengthen the bond between children and nature. Founded in 2008, the Network is the result of a partnership between the Children & Nature Network and Sierra Club’s Building Bridges to the Outdoors, with corporate support from The North Face.

"Get Outside Day is about celebrating your own personal connection with nature," said Juan Martinez, coordinator of the Natural Leader’s Network and a young leader himself, "and this Network connects those different perspectives to ensure that such opportunities are available for all young people, everywhere. "

The Sierra Club agrees. "We believe that the energy and dynamism of young people fuels the Natural Leaders Network, developing it into a significant force for connecting all communities with the outdoors," said Martin LeBlanc, Sierra Club’s National Youth and Special Projects Director. He emphasized that "it’s time to get out there and enjoy our world! Playing outside, getting muddy, seeing these stars; the power of these experiences inspire long-term connections to nature."

Some notable Get Outside Day! events include:
• Meadowood Recreation Area, VA- Natural Leaders in the Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will partner with a local community organization serving diverse youth, to complete a trail restoration project and learn about the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program.
• Yosemite National Park- Crenshaw and Dorsey High School Eco Club students from South Los Angeles will join a WildLink expedition for a five day backcountry hiking trip.
• Bronx, New York- Natural Leaders, together with Sierra Club’s Building Bridges to the Outdoors project, will celebrate Get Outside Day! by participating in a nature hike through Bronx Park Forest.
• Brecksville, Ohio- Youth will join rangers at Cuyahoga Valley National Park to witness "sky dancing" birds up to 300 feet in the air.
• Luquillo, Puerto Rico- Children and their families will celebrate the arrival of endangered leatherback turtles to the beaches of the Northeast Ecological Corridor, a treasured wild space that currently faces the threat of development.

Juan Palma, Bureau of Land Management Eastern States Director, is getting youth outdoors in Virginia. "We here in the BLM Eastern States are excited about reaching out to minority students, helping each one to imagine a future of bright promise. With our partners in the Natural Leaders Network, we can provide the mentoring they need to pursue careers naturally, as leaders in environmental resource management."

Richard Louv, chairman of the Children & Nature Network, praised the efforts. "These young people are the most effective leaders in the children and nature movement. They serve their communities every day as they work to guarantee safe places for children to play in the natural world," said Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.

Youth of all backgrounds, environments, and age groups are proving them right as they hike, garden, climb, splash, photograph, and explore the world outside their front doors. For more information, visit www.naturalleaders.org or www.sierraclub.org/youth.