WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that the National Park Service will begin a “special resource study” of sites that are significant to the life of César E. Chávez and the farm labor movement in the western United States. Secretary Salazar and Secretary Hilda L. Solis from the Department of Labor attended a private meeting with President Obama, members of César Chávez’ family, and the United Farm Workers yesterday, which would have marked the 83rd Birthday of the famed Civil Rights leader.
“The life of César Chávez and people like him who have worked to make this country a better, more perfect union deserve to be recognized as part of the history of America,” said Secretary Salazar. “As stewards of the history of this great nation we look forward to working with the Chávez Family, the United Farm Workers, and communities throughout California and Arizona to determine how best to preserve this great legacy.”
“César Chávez changed the course of history for Latinos and farm workers, empowering them to fight for fair wages, health care coverage, pension benefits, housing improvements, pesticide and health regulations, and countless other protections for their health and well-being,” said Secretary Solis. “As a farm worker himself, he had a great connection to the natural environment. We still have a lot to learn from his legacy – that is why I was proud to work with Secretary Salazar in Congress on this issue and I am delighted that the Department of the Interior will begin to study significant sites in the life of this great American hero.”
“The National Park Service is extremely interested in stories that are important to the American experience,” said Director of the National Park Service Jon Jarvis. “With the beginning of the Chávez Special Resource Study we have the opportunity to examine César Chávez and the national farm workers’ movement, an important story that has not fully been told.”
The purpose of the Chávez Special Resource Study is to identify important sites related to the life and work of César E. Chávez, as well as the farm labor movement in the western United States, and evaluate their national significance. The US Congress directed the National Park Service to conduct this study through legislation enacted in May of 2008 (P.L. 110-229 §325, 122STAT. 778). Secretary Salazar and Secretary Solis authored the original legislation while serving in the Senate and House, respectively.
The legislation directs the National Park Service (NPS) to study significant sites in Arizona, California and other states to determine:
1. appropriate methods for preserving and interpreting the sites, and
2. whether any of the sites meet the criteria for listing on the National Register of Historic Places or designation as a National Historic Landmark.
The NPS is also directed to consider whether the sites are nationally significant, whether they are suitable and feasible for consideration as a unit of the national park system, and to evaluate a range of possible management alternatives, including management by organizations other than the NPS. The legislation specifically directs the NPS to consult with the César E. Chávez Foundation, the United Farm Workers, state and local historical associations and societies, and state historic preservation offices. The final product of the study will be a report to Congress on the study findings and recommendations.
In June 2009 Secretary Salazar also established a new departmental Office of Youth in the Great Outdoors to catalyze youth employment and development programs throughout the Department. The Chávez Study, through a partnership with California State University Fullerton is one of many projects youth are spearheading for the Department. Due to her extensive experience managing youth programs throughout the country, César Chávez’ granddaughter, Julie Chávez Rodriguez, was appointed yesterday as the new Director for the Office of Youth in the Great Outdoors.
Brief Biography of Julie Chávez Rodriguez
Julie Chávez Rodriguez was recently appointed as the new Director for the Youth in the Great Outdoors office at the Department of the Interior. Julie most recently served as the Deputy Press Secretary for the Department, supporting communications and outreach efforts on a variety of issues, including outreach to the Latino community and Spanish-language media outlets. Prior to joining the Department Julie served as the Director of Programs for the César E. Chávez Foundation, a non-profit organization, founded in 1993 by the Chávez family to educate the nation about his life and work. In 2001, she helped launch the Chávez Foundation’s service-learning programs across the United States, specifically the Educating the Heart Professional Development Program and the Chávez After School Service Clubs. In the nine years she spent with the organization, Julie distinguished herself as an effective program manager, teacher trainer, and advocate for youth development programming. She has established school and community based partnerships in major cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago, and Phoenix, and helped develop curricula widely used in school districts throughout the country.
Julie was a Fellow in the National Service-Learning Emerging Leaders Initiative sponsored by the Kellogg Foundation, the National Service-Learning Partnership, and the National Youth Leadership Council. She has received numerous awards and appointments for her work in the field of education and youth development, including the Stellar Award which was awarded in March 2009 at the 20th Annual National Service-Learning Conference in Nashville, TN.
For more information on youth programs, please visit http://doi.gov/whatwedo/youth/.