American Eagle Outfitters Helps Launch Youth Conservation Initiative

American Eagle Outfitters Helps Launch Youth Conservation Initiative

The following post was written by Anne Pedtke, Student Conservation Association Marketing Outreach Coordinator. The Student Conservation Association, one of American Eagle Outfitters’ national charity partners, is a national conservation force of high school and college students who protect America’s natural resources and restore our environment. Ann had attended the kick off of a remarkable new program called the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps [21CSC] in Washington, DC.

Ann joined Helga Ying, American Eagle Outfitters Vice President of External Engagement and Social Responsibility, and U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on the steps of the President Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial to officially launch the corps and announce AEO’s $1 million donation.


“American Eagle Outfitters Helps Launch Youth Conservation Initiative” by Ann Pedtke



U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell celebrating the 21CSC launch at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial. Photo credit: DOI/Tami A. Heilemann.


On January 8th, at the President Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, members and alumni from the Student Conservation Association [SCA] joined U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in announcing the creation of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps [21CSC]. American Eagle Outfitters’ pledged $1 million to help launch the program. The original Civilian Conservation Corps was founded by President Roosevelt in 1933 as part of the New Deal to provide jobs conserving natural resources and grounds owned by the federal, state and local governments to Americans during the Great Depression. Now AEO is stepping up as the first corporate partner in a federal program that aims to engage 1 million volunteers and provide conservation training opportunities to 100,000 youth across the U.S. every year.

A longtime partner of SCA, American Eagle Outfitters has already made life-changing outdoor experiences possible for thousands of students in SCA’s Alternative Spring Break and Hurricane Sandy Recovery programs.

“The Student Conservation Association was a pioneer 57 years ago,” said Secretary Jewell, “and it has inspired many, many other youth conservation corps around the country. So the work of SCA as a partner with us in our National Parks and other public lands has been critical.”

SCA members and alumni were excited to be on the National Mall to witness the Secretary’s historic announcement. Bundled up against single-digit temperatures, students filled the audience as Secretary Jewell spoke about the importance of youth engagement in the outdoors. “These young people,” the Secretary said, gesturing to the ranks of SCA members who stood behind her, “are getting a taste for what we, as human beings, long for… a connection to nature and the outdoors that feeds the soul. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to know that there are students like these all over the country making a difference in our public lands.”


Secretary Jewell speaks with SCA crew leader Tom M.

Secretary Jewell speaks with SCA crew leader Tom M.


American Eagle Outfitters’ Helga Ying added, “This public-private partnership is one close to our customers’ hearts and directly reinforces our company’s community engagement principles. Through this initiative, we are able to provide opportunities for students to work together to protect our planet and improve our country through a deeper connection to nature, civic engagement and community development.”


Helga Ying of American Eagle Outfitters

Helga Ying, VP of External Engagement and Corporate Responsibility, speaks about AEO’s donation. Photo credit: DOI/Tami A. Heilemann.


After the announcement, Secretary Jewell led the students on a walking tour of the memorial, then invited four SCA members back to Department of the Interior headquarters for lunch. “Having lunch with Secretary Jewell was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Tai Schroeder, a three-time alum of SCA now studying zoology at the University of Wisconsin. “We talked about our experiences with the outdoors and what sparked our interest in environmentalism. I learned that no matter what age you are you can make an impact.”


Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Secretary Jewell took the time to speak with students and tour the memorial after the announcement.


Jeremy Taitaino, an alum of SCA’s community crews now majoring in biology at Temple University, agreed. “Youth are the most important part of the conservation movement … We are the people who are going to be running this country in the future, so if we get involved in conservation early, we can really make a difference.”

Find out how you can become involved with AEO Better World and the SCA by visiting the #SCAserve website.

Follow along on social media:

Twitter: @the_SCA; @Interior; @SecretaryJewell

Instagram: @the_SCA; @USInterior

More coverage:

NPR: “Interior Secretary Wants to Create Jobs for Conservationists

Washington Post: “American Eagle Outfitters Pledges $1 Million for Public Land Effort

Official Press Release: “Secretary Jewell Announces $1 Million Private Funding Commitment to Advance Youth & Conservation Initiative

Tags: ,

12 Months of Serving the Planet with The Student Conservation Association

12 Months of Serving the Planet with The Student Conservation Association

Our friends at the Student Conservation Association know that saving the planet means caring for every last bit of it, especially the parts closest to where you live. That’s why in 2014 they’re bringing you new opportunities each month to get together with other local conservationists and serve the planet in your community.

Check SCA’s events page for frequent updates on upcoming single day projects throughout year. This month you’re invited to join the SCA in celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with hands-on conservation service in 11 different cities, including  New York, Seattle, Pittsburgh, and Washington, DC. Click here to find the event nearest you and RSVP.



Join the SCA and American Eagle Outfitters with 12 Months of Serving.


Live in New York? Then you’ll want to know about ConSERVE NYC, SCA’s monthly series of weekend service days in parks and community greenspaces all over the 5 boroughs. Head here to sign up for this month’s event and check out photos from previous projects.

Whether you’re at an SCA service event, or serving on your own, inspire others by sharing your service on the web. Use #servetheplanet to show the world how and why you serve on Instagram and Twitter. Be sure and follow @the_sca! You can also share your conservation inspiration on SCA’s Service Wall by tweeting with the hashtag #SCAserve or clicking here to post photos.


Be sure to share your photos with #SCAserve.

Be sure to share your photos with #SCAserve.


With SCA’s single day service projects you’ll meet others who care about the planet as much as you do and team up with them to make a positive impact on your local environment. Bookmark SCA’s events page to find new projects each month and sign up for emails to stay informed about events in your city. Let’s work together to make 2014 the year of serving the planet!

Tags: , ,

Give Back This Season with SCA

Give Back This Season with SCA

Our outdoorsy friends at The Student Conservation Association want to clean up 2,000 miles of hiking trail in 2014 but they can’t do it without your help!


student conservation association american eagle outfitters

See how far your gift will go!


Donate before December 31st and you’ll be matched dollar for dollar. A $25 gift will have the impact of $50… Imagine a whole mile of fresh hiking!

This holiday season, help SCA deliver the wonders of nature. Head over to SCA’s site to donate and make an impact!


Tags: , ,

SCA x AEO: Sandy Recovery One Year Later

SCA x AEO: Sandy Recovery One Year Later

On Saturday, October 26, the SCA kicked off the ConSERVE NYC storm readiness service series with a coastal restoration project commemorating the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy at Gateway National Recreation Area. American Eagle helped kick off SCA’s Sandy recovery efforts at the very same park last spring with the “We Donate, You Decide” campaign. It was so great the get back to Gateway and celebrate all the work we’ve accomplished together in just one year!

Want to join in the effort to strengthen NYC’s weather defenses? Volunteer at SCA’s next ConSERVE NYC event in Manhattan on November 9th.

Here’s an excerpt from SCA Outreach Coordinator and blogger Ann P.‘s blog post about Saturday’s project. Head to SCA’s blog, Conservation Nation, to read the entire recap.

“Bundled up in the brisk autumn weather, over 80 volunteers gathered for the project at Great Kills Park on Staten Island, a unit of Gateway National Recreation Area. Some groups tackled storm debris, collecting trash and uprooting tires, barrels, and driftwood. Others focused on erecting erosion fencing to protect the dunes and the native vegetation on Crooke’s Point.”

American Eagle Outfitters SCA Hurricane Sandy Recovery Great Kills Kick-off, group shot

Picking up debris in Great Kills on Staten Island.


American Eagle Outfitters SCA Hurricane Sandy Recovery Great Kills Kick-off, group shot

Rebuilding fences at Great Kills on Staten Island


“By the end of the morning, when volunteers gathered back at the Beach Center for lunch, over 800 feet of dune fencing had been completed, and over 1700 pounds of debris had been removed from two miles of beachfront.”

Tags: , , , ,

#TheDreamat50: Dance the Dream

#TheDreamat50: Dance the Dream

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, American Eagle Outfitters played footage from the original delivery at the March on Washington on our Times Square billboard on August 28, 2013.

As part of the global tribute of  “I Have a Dream” anniversary, The Dream at 50 produced by Karz Productions, organized a worldwide flash mob, Dance the Dream. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis taped an exclusive version of “Can’t Hold Us” for the Dance the Dream event in Times Square on August 28th.

So far, twenty cities from around the globe have participated in Dance the Dream. Events for Dance the Dream will continue through Martin Luther King Day on January 20, 2014.

Tags: ,

AEO Friends & Family: Laura M., Legal Intern & Former Teach For America Teacher

AEO Friends & Family: Laura M., Legal Intern & Former Teach For America Teacher

This back to school season, American Eagle Outfitters is dedicating our time and effort to help underprivileged students across America get the resources and tools necessary to succeed. Associates from all over the company are coming together to donate school supplies to fill backpacks for Teach For America (TFA). One of our legal interns, Laura, has a special place in her heart for TFA. Before coming to AEO, she spent two years teaching 8th grade English and Social Studies in the Bronx for TFA. Read on to learn about her amazing experience and the time she shared with her students.

From your own personal experiences, explain how TFA helps underprivileged children learn.

“One Day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.” Teach For America. TFA’s mission is to get to “One Day” and eliminate educational inequity. TFA recruits people who are willing to devote 100 percent of their time to teaching in low-income communities and achieving incredibly ambitious academic goals for their students. They seek candidates who have demonstrated leadership abilities, a passion about their mission and an ability to overcome all manner of obstacles to reach their goals. TFA teachers enter the classroom with a very specific goal in mind, and their progress to the goal is carefully tracked. TFA also provides many support systems for their teachers to make sure that they are successful, and allows them to serve their students in a uniquely individualized way. TFA always reassesses its teaching model to make sure that it is as effective as it can possibly be.

photo (5)

Laura’s students pose for a picture in the park.

What were your reasons for pursuing Teach for America?

I believe in the mission, and I wanted to be challenged in the way that TFA promised to be.

What are some of the biggest goals that TFA tries to achieve?

TFA aims to change the trajectory of students’ lives. This involves raising their academic performance, helping them to imagine the future they want for themselves and providing them with the skills to get there. Academic goals are, at a minimum, that all students in a TFA classroom will improve their reading level by two years each year, and will achieve 80 percent mastery of all standards.

photo (2)

Laura (center) with her students.

What subject/grade did you teach? How long did you teach?

I taught 8th grade English and Social Studies to a class that was 50 percent special education and 50 percent general education. I taught in a Title 1 school where 100 percent of the students qualified for low or reduced price lunch.

While teaching in the Bronx, what were some of the most important lessons you learned from your students?

I learned a lot of awesome lingo, and they were always quick to tell me how I should be dressing, but really I learned a lot about how to be strong in the face of terrible odds, and to remain hopeful when everything around you tells you to give up.


Laura’s students pose in their graduation caps.

What do you think is the most important thing(s) that a student should take away from TFA?

The goal of a TFA teacher is to change the trajectory of their students. This involves giving them the skills to do better academically, socially and, ultimately, professionally. Students of a TFA teacher should at the end of the year have a picture of where they want to go in life, and more importantly, a belief that they can get there.

What resources do you feel are necessary for a student to succeed?

Students need strong role models, a lot of individualized attention that addresses their specific challenges and to be held to high expectations.

photo (4)

Laura and her students dress up for a formal event

What resources do classrooms taught by TFA need the most?

TFA classrooms are in the neediest areas in the country. The students need school supplies, technology and the opportunity to have experiences that their more affluent peers have. After-school programs, summer camps and sports teams are just some of the valuable experiences that students in low-income areas never get to have.

What were some of the biggest obstacles/challenges that you faced as a teacher during your time with TFA?

Every single day was a challenge, and each challenge was different than the one before it. At first it was daunting to learn to keep 40 8th graders under control all day long. It was a daily challenge to help my students believe that doing well in school could change their lives when they had so few examples of that around them. It was a challenge to engage students and keep them entertained, and a challenge to meet so many kids at their own level.

photo (1)

More of Laura’s students pose in their graduation caps.

Any memorable moments?

So many! Memorable moments, memorable people – a million irreplaceable memories. In teaching, in one day you may be madder than you have ever been, and then sadder and then happier. It pushes you to your limits! Every day is an adventure, and many of the moments are worth holding onto. Click here to read more about Laura’s memorable moments.

What can the public do to help TFA?

Support the teachers – they are doing the hardest job in the world. Donate money to support their classrooms. Donate time – meet their students, provide opportunities for students to get out of their communities and see more of the world. Invest your talents in the TFA communities – spend a day contributing your skills, giving legal advice, medical help or job training.


Are there any misinterpretations or misconceptions about TFA that you want to set straight?

There are a lot of misconceptions, and a lot of people who have conflicting ideas about achieving the same goals. What is important is that people continue to think about how to achieve educational equity in their city – no one person has all of the answers. TFA is highly scrutinized, and has been very successful, but our public school system has a lot of room for improvement, and there is plenty of space for debate.


To learn more about Teach For America and ways in which you can help, click here.

Tags: ,


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 258 other followers