The 100-year old Black fraternity’s initiative commemorates American scientist, botanist, and inventor, George Washington Carver to promote Conservation of North American Wildlife and their Habitats
Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — Leading African-American fraternity Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. (Sigma) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) have joined forces to conserve Americaâ€™s wildlife in a new way. The two organizations signed an historic memorandum of understanding today in Washington, DC, establishing a partnership that will provide new opportunities for urban youth to experience the natural world and promote interest in conservation and the biological sciences.The initiative commemorates American scientist, botanist, and inventor, George Washington Carver â€“ a Sigma member who has inspired generations of youth to pursue careers in science.
â€œMany Americans find it difficult to experience nature in an increasingly urban America. This has profound implications for the health and well-being of our citizens and the future of our nation,â€ said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. â€œSigma â€“ with its rich history of community leadership and deep connection to the legacy of Dr. Carver â€“ is the ideal partner for the Service as we work to create meaningful connections between young people and the great outdoors.â€
â€œThe over-arching goal of Sigma is to impact the total well-being of the citizens in communities we serve,â€ shares Jonathan A. Mason, Sr., International President of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. â€œWe are excited for this amazing opportunity to partner with the US Fish and Wildlife Service in engaging our youth through education and physical activity. Weâ€™ve aligned our focus with President Barack Obamaâ€™s â€˜Am I My Brotherâ€™s Keeper?â€™ initiative as we take this opportunity to teach our young men that food does not come from a box, but from the ground,â€ Mason asserted.
The multi-faceted partnership will engage Sigma members and its Sigma Beta Club male mentoring youth groups to become environmental stewards. Goals include 1) teaching and engaging youth in outdoor recreation on public lands to promote health through physical activity; 2) promoting the pursuit of biological sciences careers through stewardship and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math); 3) building national, regional and local conservation partnerships; and 4) engaging Sigma as a voice on conservation issues.
Sigma Betas, Sigmaâ€™s youth auxiliary, will be engaged in hands-on activities with scientists to learn about wildlife, science, and conservation by participating in real scientific studies and conservation efforts. Through â€œcitizen scienceâ€ activities, Sigma Betas will learn how to follow in the footsteps of conservationist, botanist, and inventor, George Washington Carver. Carver is one of Sigmaâ€™s illustrious members, and is recognized for his groundbreaking research on plant biology and early experiments to improve soil conservation. Carver is also the only member of a historically African-American fraternity to be featured on the face of a U.S. coin (The 1951 half dollar).
Sigma Betas will also learn about designing an active lifestyle, and the connection between outdoor recreation and nature through Letâ€™s Move Outside. The effort is part of the First Lady Michelle Obamaâ€™s initiative, Letâ€™s Move, designed to get kids and families to get involved in physical activities on public lands. Outdoor activity helps kids maintain a healthy weight, boosts their immunity and bone health and lowers stress.
About the US Fish and Wildlife Service
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information, visit www.fws.gov, or connect with them through the major social media channels.
About Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. was founded on January 9, 1914 at Howard University, Washington, DC. As the organization celebrates 100 years of service, it has grown to amass over 150,000 members serving in nearly 700 chapters globally. As an international association of college-educated men, the organizationâ€™s programmatic areas include Bigger & Better Business, Education, Social Action and the Sigma Beta Club, a male youth mentoring program. The organization has corporate service partnerships with the March of Dimes Foundation and St. Judeâ€™s Childrenâ€™s Research.
Photo Caption: FWS and Sigma sign partnership agreement. (Back – left to right) Sigma Deputy Director Steve Ballard, Sigma Beta Club Foundation President and Past International President Arthur Thomas, Sigma Executive Director Darryl Anderson, Sigma Partner Liaison Kevin Davis, and Sigma International Director of Education Jean B. Lamothe; (Seated – left to right) Phi Beta Sigma International President Jonathan A. Mason and FWS Director Dan Ashe.
Photo Credit: Tami Heilemann, Department of Interior