The Chicago Wilderness alliance was represented by five emerging leaders in regional conservation at the 2011 Outdoor Nation Youth Summit, July 15-17 in Minneapolis, MN. The Summit brought together more than 100 youth from across the Midwest to discuss challenges and opportunities, and develop action plans to get more young people outside. The participants voted on the best ideas and the winners received a grant of $2,500 from Outdoor Nation. Outdoor Nation is an initiative of The Outdoor Foundation, and the Summit was presented by The North Face, REI Foundation, and The Conservation Fund.
One of the four winning projects at the Minneapolis Summit was co-developed by several Chicago Wilderness representatives. The project involves connecting high school youth with the outdoors through experiences facilitated by college students who are passionate about the environment, confident in their abilities, and able to mentor their younger peers. Catherine Game (Chicago Department of the Environment) and John Cawood (Elmhurst Park District) will coordinate the evaluation component of the multi-state project, while Edward Warden (University of Chicago) will serve as the project's Illinois Coordinator.
Reflecting on her Summit experience, Mia Bryan (NorthCentralCollege) saw it as "very inspirational. Not only was it an opportunity to become acquainted with young leaders in environmental stewardship, but also an open and secure environment for critical thinking on the problem of getting more youth outside. Participants left feeling that they weren't just the future; they were the present and had the capabilities to make change there and then."
Article originally published in the Chicago Wilderness August Issue of the Education and Leave No Child Inside Newletter. Courtesy of Emilian Geczi (firstname.lastname@example.org).