FREEPORT, Maine — U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar visited L.L. Bean’s flagship store in Freeport on Monday to celebrate the company’s commitment to outdoor recreation for youth — which Bean is backing up with a $1 million pledge to the National Park Foundation.
As part of the celebration of 100 years in business, L.L. Bean created the Million Moment Mission, which began in January. For every photograph, story, Facebook post or Tweet of an outdoor experience that references the sporting goods retailer, L.L. Bean will donate $1 to the National Park Foundation, up to $1 million, to support recreation programs for children.
L.L. Bean President and CEO Chris McCormick said during a press conference at the store Monday that just five months into the year, nearly 500,000 moments have been shared and that he’s confident the goal will be reached by year’s end.
“Sixty percent of parents say their kids spend less than one hour a day outdoors,” said McCormick. “We know it’s important for kids to adopt an active and healthy lifestyle early on so they can grow to be healthy adults. All our customers have to do is share an outdoor moment with us, whether they’re sending us a note, a photograph, a story, a posting on Facebook or Tweeting us.”
McCormick hinted that the company will “turbocharge” the effort later this summer, but didn’t elaborate about how.
Salazar, who was in Maine on Friday to celebrate the deconstruction of a dam on the Penobscot River, said Bean’s program is a model of how private philanthropy can intersect with the greater good.
“With a company like L.L. Bean investing in that connection, I’m confident that we’re going to get there, and that we’re going to attack the nature deficit that unfortunately we are seeing all across America,” said Salazar, who is also board chairman for the National Park Foundation. “We see so much good that happens when we connect up our young people to the outdoors of this country.”
Besides instilling healthy lifestyles for youths, Salazar stressed that protecting and preserving the environment is good for the economy as well. In Maine, outdoor recreation accounts for about 48,000 jobs and $3 billion in gross domestic product per year. Nationwide, according to Salazar, more than $730 billion is generated and an estimated one out of every 20 jobs is connected to outdoor recreation, including some 12 million hunters and 30 million fishermen.
“These statistics are important and something we need to remind ourselves of,” he said.
Neil Mulholland, president and CEO of the National Park Foundation, accompanied Salazar on his trip to Maine. The National Park Foundation is a national organization whose mission is to support the country’s nearly 400 national parks. He said the $1 million donation from L.L. Bean through its Million Moment Mission will support a program called America’s Best Idea, which connects diverse, underserved and underengaged populations with national parks.
“This is truly a million moment mission and something we are so proud to be a part of,” said Mulholland.
A group of students from Freeport Middle School who recently benefited from L.L. Bean’s philanthropy through the Schoodic Education Adventure, a multiday residential education program at Acadia National Park, also were on hand.
“It was a really good experience,” said Ella Werner. “We were up to our elbows in dirt and it was a really great learning experience.”
For information about L.L. Bean’s Million Moment Mission, visit https://100.llbean.com/million-moment-mission/.