In March I had the privilege to spend a day at the YMCA’s Earth Service Corps annual Environmental Symposium. Over 150 young adults from all over the Salish Sea joined together to attend multiple workshops on the University of Washington’s campus. Session leaders included representatives from organizations such as Islandwood, Port Townsend Marine Science Center, Friends of Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, Seattle Audubon Society, Puget Soundkeeper, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, Northwest Energy Coalition, and the Shadow Lake Nature Preserve. These high school students (grades 9-12) got to spend time with experts—asking questions about how to preserve our natural resources, how to clean up water, how to use less materials, and ways to conserve energy in our day-to-day lives.
It was an enlightening day for me. I was able to listen to questions, discover what is on the minds of young people in our community, and maybe—in my own little way—help inspire these kids towards careers that will help protect our great outdoors.
Last month, our team also had a chance to visit with new Coalition members EarthCorps and the Student Conservation Association (SCA) at our offices. These two organizations do amazing work with young people by getting them out onto recreation trails around our state and engaging them with nature. They create and inspire conservation leaders that will strengthen communities and restore the health of our environment.
It is not by accident that the Coalition is engaging with different groups that work with young people who care about natural resources.
Personally, I think SCA’s mission accurately describes what many of us in the outdoor recreation community are striving for: “To build the next generation of conservation leaders and inspire lifelong stewardship of the environment and communities by engaging young people in hands-on service to the land.”
By introducing young people to the outdoors and demonstrating to them the effect that conservation and recreation programs can have, the Coalition will create a new generation of WWRP champions—and help protect the outdoor legacy of this beautiful state.