When I first visited the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, it changed me forever. When you first see a place like that for yourself, you can’t help but think about the ways we’re all connected, to the planet and to each other, and I experienced a connection to the land and to the people there that has stuck with me.

Ever since, I’ve done everything I can to make sure the Arctic Refuge and other majestic places like it are protected once and for all. That’s the kind of transformation I hope every one of these kids experiences in their own way.

Today, President Obama announced Fresh Tracks, a new initiative that Zumiez and I are proud to support. Inspired by the Administration’s commitment to connecting more young Americans to the outdoors and by the President’s trip to Alaska last summer, IslandWood, the Sierra Club, the Children & Nature Network’s Natural Leaders, and action sports retailer Zumiez have launched a new project called Fresh Tracks. This project will provide two dozen youth from underserved Los Angeles and Alaska Native communities with opportunities to travel together to both areas and explore diverse cultures and outdoors over a three-week period in August.

Fresh Tracks will give young people the chance to see places they would never otherwise go, and to meet other young people and build connections that will last a lifetime. My hope is that those experiences will transform their own lives, and will also set them on a path to become leaders who understand the importance of caring for each other and for the planet.


From President Obama’s announcement:

In addition to protecting more land and water than any Administration in history – more than 265 million acres – the President has sought to ensure that all Americans and future generations have the opportunity to experience the natural and cultural richness of our national parks, monuments, forests and other public lands. Nearly a year ago, the President announced the launch of the Every Kid in a Park program to give every 4th grader in America free access to visit the country’s unparalleled public lands, and over the course of the next year, the Administration will continue to encourage all Americans to “find your park” and experience firsthand the wonder of America’s great outdoors. Moreover, the Administration is working to galvanize public and private support to achieve the goals of Every Kid in a Park and boost additional efforts to connect more underserved youth with nature.

Inspired by the Administration’s commitment to connecting more young Americans to the outdoors and by the President’s trip to Alaska last summer, IslandWood, the Sierra Club, the Children & Nature Network’s Natural Leaders, and action sports retailer Zumiez are today announcing a new project called “Fresh Tracks.” Their independent project will provide two dozen youth from underserved Los Angeles and Alaska Native communities with opportunities to travel together to both areas and explore diverse cultures and outdoors over a three-week period in August. Their project is particularly focused on working with communities responding to the My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge, a call to action by President Obama for cities, Tribal Nations, towns, and counties to build and execute robust cradle-to-college-and-career plans to ensure that all young people—no matter who they are or where they come from—can achieve their full potential. The President’s actions today are protecting important public lands, and efforts like Fresh Tracks and Every Kid in a Park will work to ensure that our country’s youth are able to visit and enjoy these types of cultural and natural areas.