Building Partnerships, Conserving Lands

Editor's Note: Michael Rouse is Vice President, Philanthropy and Community Affairs at Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc., which together with CEQ, EPA and the nonprofit National Environmental Education Foundation, announced grant funding today for community-based organizations around the nation that are supporting public lands.

As part of Toyota's commitment to our nation's environment and public lands, today we announced that we have made a $3 million grant to the National Environmental Education Foundation to improve the capacity of community-based organizations, often called "friends groups", who are helping to protect and preserve our public lands. We made our announcement today at Baltimore's Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, joined by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley, NEEF President Diane Wood and Baltimore students and residents who are proud to have this public land in their city.

The organizations that support parks and other public lands are invaluable to maintaining and promoting them in their hometowns, but they often lack the resources they need for this critical work. The Toyota grant will support these local organizations in becoming as effective as possible in their work on public lands, whether it's a small city green space or one of our treasured national parks.

Supporting these groups' efforts in communities across the country makes us proud. Their dedication and initiative are tremendous. We have seen this interest in protecting our public lands grow with more than 170,000 volunteers participating in NEEF's annual National Public Lands Day, of which Toyota has been the national sponsor for what will be the 14th consecutive year in 2012.

The public-private partnership that this grant represents echoes President Obama's America's Great Outdoors Initiative, which encourages grassroots, community-based conservation. We hope other members of the business community will join us in supporting the great work of these groups and their volunteers, who exemplify the spirit of this nation.

For more information about the Toyota grant and NEEF's Every Day Grants program for these organizations, please visit www.neefusa.org.

Michael Rouse is Vice President, Philanthropy and Community Affairs at Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc.

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