Clearwater Youth Leaders Invited to the White House

Clearwater youth leaders, Carlos Duran of New York, NY, and Francis Cruz of Yonkers, NY,  are invited to the East Room of the White House for a reception with President Barack Obama for the release of the America’s Great Outdoors report on Wednesday February 16th. Duran and Cruz are both Clearwater Green Leadership Pipeline graduates, and participated in the American Great Outdoors youth listening session held in Hyde Park, NY this past August.

Carlos Duran with US Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack at the AGO listening session, August 2010

Carlos Duran was vocal during the America’s Great Outdoors listening sessions in Hyde Park, NY last summer and invited to the podium to address the audience at both the August 5 youth listening session and the full listening session on August 6 as a youth representative. Duran has been involved with Clearwater as an Education Intern and as a guest speaker for Clearwater’s “Young Men at the Helm” program. He will return as a mate aboard the sloop this spring. Duran has been involved in other youth programs, including Rocking the Boat, and worked for the New York Council on the Environment for the “Learn it, Grow it, Eat it” program, where he participated in community gardens and educated Bronx communities about food origins and healthy eating habits.

Francis Cruz is an original member of Clearwater's Young Women at the Helm program

Francis Cruz also participated in the August 2010 Hyde Park, NY youth listening session. Cruz, who currently serves on Clearwater’s Board of Directors, is a member of Clearwater’s original 2001 class of “Young Women at the Helm” and has served as a Clearwater Urban Outreach Intern, and as a Clearwater Apprentice and as an Education Intern during the 2009 sailing season. Cruz is a teacher with Bronx High School for students with special needs.

On April 16, 2010, President Obama established the America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) initiative to develop a 21st century conservation and recreation agenda to strengthen the connection between Americans and the outdoors. The AGO initiative is led by the secretaries of the department of Agriculture and the Interior, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Clearwater played an active role in organizing youth from New York City to Albany to participate in the AGO youth listening session held in Hyde Park, NY in August, one of 51 listening sessions around the country to solicit ideas on how to protect our nation’s lands and waters, connect Americans to the outdoors and to our natural heritage and to empower local communities to protect and restore the places they love. The Hyde Park youth session participants were undeniably passionate, with over 300 youth arriving to contribute their ideas and concerns about the environment.

Clearwater is hopeful that the AGO proposals and new initiatives included in the report are based on ways the great outdoors can support youth involvement in the environment, promote regional economies, provide access to the natural environment, create green spaces, support green education, green careers, and implementing green infrastructure practices.

Clearwater is proud of its passionate young leaders who attended this session and who aspire to make a difference in our country. We applaud their determination and leadership in making our communities better places. “You may think that no one listens to youth,” said youth leader Carlos Duran, “take the initiative! In a big group, it is hard to get something started, but if someone starts something, all it takes is a spark to have a fire!”

“This is what Clearwater’s programming is all about, said Jeff Rumpf, executive director, “We applaud President Obama for demonstrating to our youth that they are listened to and working together, we can make things happen. This is not just philosophical; Clearwater has a Green Cities initiative that will bring about tremendous change to the Hudson Valley. We are actively seeking Washington’s support for this project that will bring thousands of young people to the River and educate them as the next generation of environmental leaders. The Green Cities initiative includes plans for 6 River cities, and will establish a homeport for the Clearwater in Kingston that will be the Hudson’s Mystic Seaport for environmental work and economic development. This will fulfill Pete Seeger’s legacy and show the world that our urban communities are the future of the new environmental movement.”

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