The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) announced a $3 million grant by Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. to the foundation to improve the capacity of community-based organizations supporting parks and other public lands. U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley and other officials joined NEEF for the announcement. This public-private partnership, consistent with President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, comes at a time when public lands are in need of financial and volunteer support.
U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said, “I want to thank Toyota for showing all of us how a strong public-private partnership can help preserve and support public parks and lands across our nation. Toyota’s $3 million contribution to the National Environmental Education Foundation will help protect our public lands for future generations.”
“Thousands of local nonprofit organizations are answering the call to help their public lands maintain grounds and trails, and generally keep up with growing interest in their use locally and nationally,” said Diane Wood, president of NEEF. “But many groups lack the necessary resources to be as effective as they possibly can. Toyota’s gift unleashes the power of these groups to serve their local parks and lands by increasing their capacity to establish lasting organizations, recruit volunteers and involve their communities.”
“We’re glad to see partnerships like these coming together to support our public parks and the lands that the American people value,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “America’s great outdoors — from our city parks to our wildlife reserves — play an important role in the strength of our communities. The Obama administration has made it a priority to reconnect the American people with the recreational, economic and health benefits of being outdoors, and we’re grateful for the many partners who are coming together to serve the same priorities.”
Chair Sutley said, “The America’s Great Outdoors Initiative supports communities that are working to protect, restore and promote the parks and public lands and waters that they cherish. Public-private partnerships such as this one between Toyota and the National Environmental Education Foundation are a critical tool to help communities achieve their conservation priorities and preserve and protect our nation’s extraordinary natural and cultural heritage.”
JL Armstrong, national manager, Corporate Affairs at Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. said, “The grant furthers our commitment to public lands across the nation, from local parks which bind our communities, to our treasured national parks and public lands. We are proud to support the dedication and initiative of friends groups and other volunteer organizations that are helping to sustain the nation’s public lands.”
Jackson, Sutley, Wood, Armstrong and other officials attended a ceremony marking the grant at Baltimore’s Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. The event featured the work of the Friends of Fort McHenry, which received a $5,000 grant from the Foundation, made possible by the Toyota funding, to assist the group’s organizational capacity to serve Fort McHenry. The group has supported the development and implementation of educational programming for Baltimore city schools, living history activities about Fort McHenry, interpretive exhibits and visitor facilities.