The Wilderness Society Attends Youth Conservation Summit

This weekend, hundreds of young people travelled from around the country to Central Park, to discuss the future of conservation at the Outdoor Nation Youth Summit. The goal of the summit was to grow “a cultural movement where youth are empowered to redefine, reclaim, and rediscover the outdoors.”

The Wilderness Society shares Outdoor Nation’s mission of reconnecting people and the outdoors to “inspire healthy active living and environmental stewardship.” As young conservationists, we know that protecting, connecting and restoring our public lands will give us clean drinking water, healthy air and places to recreate for years to come.

On our first day in Central Park, we had the exciting opportunity to talk to festival goers about The Wilderness Society’s work, and began participating as youth delegates at the summit. More than 500 delegates engaged in discussions focused on different conservation themes.

We participated in the “Health and Active Living” group. The conversations connected the First Lady’s campaign Let’s Move Outside to the high point of Outdoor Nation’s second day: the America’s Great Outdoors youth-oriented listening session.

The summit served as an ideal setting for this session, which provided young people a venue to communicate their ideas on conservation. In November, the administration will compile what it has gleaned from listening sessions nationwide, in an effort to create a 21st century conservation strategy.

The listening session was slightly different from the recent Montana listening sessions, where local stakeholders shared conservation success stories. At the youth summit, delegates collaborated and discussed themes that they wanted to see highlighted in America’s Great Outdoors. Each group generated statements that included top actions and solutions to the lack of contact young people have with the outdoors.

After compiling these statements, the attendees voted on the ideas that were offered. The statements with the highest rankings will be sent to the administration to help inform the November report.

We were pleased to see top members of the Obama administration engaged in the listening session. They expressed a deep interest in hearing from young people who are the stewards of our land. We hope that the administration employs America's Great Outdoors to protect, connect and restore our great outdoors and public lands.

M’Shae Alderman is a Conservation Associate and Lindsey Levick is a Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) coordinator for The Wilderness Society.