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Youth Leadership Conference in the North Cascades 2010

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Uploaded on Feb 4, 2011

The inaugural Youth Leadership Conference, hosted by North Cascades Institute at their Environmental Learning Center in North Cascades National Park took place November 12th -- 14th, 2010.

"A Confluence of Young Leaders" brought together diverse high school students from Washington and Oregon who had participated in programs with North Cascades Institute, North Cascades National Park (NP) and Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Program partners were joined by representatives from Lewis and Clark NHP, Mount Rainier NP, Klondike Gold Rush NHP, regional service groups and local universities to engage with the group of 50 students.

Institute conservation and community service programs such as North Cascades Wild and Cascades Climate Challenge recruit amazing young people from diverse backgrounds who live across the Pacific Northwest. Those students go on to spend significant time hiking, canoeing and camping in the North Cascades while learning about environmental issues and building leadership skills.

This conference offered students the opportunity to build connections beyond those programs. They were able to network with other youth, partners, and service organizations to learn about future ways to stay engaged. They had the chance to reconnect with and reinforce their original experiences while continuing to foster skills in leadership, communication and cooperation. And, they all made a commitment to follow through with their experience by creating an individual development plan focused on leadership and continued involvement in service and the outdoors.

The weekend's agenda was created based on requests made by the students themselves. Workshops were offered in communication skills and conflict resolution, developing service projects, and application processes for colleges, internships and jobs with service organizations and the federal government. Student led discussions, goal setting sessions, outdoor activities, entertainment, and reflective writing rounded out the jam packed three-day event.

Two keynote presentations provided a backdrop of creative expression in a changing world. Benjie Howard and Maketa Wilborn of the New Wilderness Project (http://www.nwproject.com) inspired the group through original music, poetry and prose with a thought provoking and interactive "playnote" focused on community building, communication across personal differences and the creation of sustainable connections to the world around us. The documentary team of Benjamin Drummond and Sara Joy Steele (http://bdsjs.com), no strangers to the North Cascades, shared their passion for digital storytelling through video, photography, field audio and writing.

Each youth participant will go on to seek guidance from a new personal mentor who will check in with them monthly over the course of the coming year to see how they are progressing through their action plan. Many of these students have been inspired to pursue jobs in the National Park Service and US Forest Service and now have a set of tools, next steps and relationships toward that end.

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