February 19, 2018

Young Stewards Initiative

Young Stewards Initiative

Creating the next generation of land stewards in our community

Our Mission

Our mission is to create a sense of stewardship in youth who grow up in an area surrounded by stunning public lands, but often do not fully understand their relationship to them. Since 2012, we have engaged over 20,000 young people in outdoor service learning projects throughout our valleys by maintaining and creating trails, as well as in the classroom with our Sustainable Outdoor Leadership program.

The Young Stewards Initiative works with youth from a variety of organizations including local elementary, middle and high schools, the Buddy Program, PREP (Personal Responsibility Education Program), several parishes, as well as Beyond the Bell and Summer Advantage programs, just to name a few of our valued partnerships.. As an organizational goal, we hope to work with every school in Roaring Fork Valley from Parachute to Aspen to teach a genuine love, appreciation, and comfort within the natural world that surrounds our mountain communities.

Y.S.I. Programs

Whether it's winter or summer, our programs are designed to engage kids in outdoor stewardship learning

Outdoor Service Learning Projects Full or Half Days (May - November)

We believe that encouraging young people to interact directly with the land by maintaining and creating trails, preserving wetlands, and improving public spaces will allow them to see the immediate positive impact they can have on their world while developing a personal relationship with the natural world. We work with all ages and experience levels, and often have youth volunteers who have never hiked any of the local trails on which we work.

What a Service Project Looks Like

A typical trail project day for a middle or high school program would involve students arriving at the site (we can provide transportation for up to 10) and receiving an instructional safety demonstration from our staff about the various tools we'll be using. We discuss the importance of land stewardship as the driving force behind our projects. RFOV Youth Coordinators, group leaders, and students hike with necessary tools to the locations in need of work. Work can vary depending on the length of the project (anywhere from 2 to 6 hours) and may include anything from the maintenance of water-bars, removal of downed trees, trimming overgrown brush or constructing rock walls to maintain the trail. Our staff focuses not only on the stewardship of the outdoors, but also on the development of character skills such as teamwork, perseverance, and leadership. Once work is complete, everyone returns to the trailhead to briefly reflect on the day’s accomplishments, followed by both group leaders and youth filling out an evaluation form.

Outdoor Education Opportunity

If your class or youth group begins or ends the year with a camping or hiking trip, we would love to help you find an on-site service project on public lands anywhere from Aspen to Parachute.

Contact us to schedule a day for your class or youth group to get out on the trails!

Sustainable Outdoor Leadership Classes (Available November - May)

We believe that to enthusiastically embrace the stewardship of their lands, young people must first understand and appreciate them. With this in mind, during the colder months, we are proud to expand our Sustainable Outdoor Leadership programming to meet a variety of classroom needs and content standards with FREE in-class programs. Our instructors have extensive experience teaching youth both in and out of the classroom.

The subjects listed below can be adapted for many different grade levels and time constraints. All of these lessons include project-based assessments that can be tied to a variety of content standards.

  • Google My Maps Trail Building
  • Leave No Trace Ethics
  • Wilderness Lands (Ethics and Management)
  • Wilderness Survival
  • Land Management Agencies Introduction (USFS, BLM, Wilderness, NPS, etc)
  • Citizenship and Stewardship
  • Land Users: Share the Land We Love
  • Public Forum Style Land Use Debate
  • Mock Trial: Historic Landmark Cases

Comprehensive SOL Course
Piloted with great success at Yampah High School in 2015, we also offer a nine-week class, taught twice a week, that encompasses most if not all of these concepts, along with some of the Experiential Stewardship opportunities as explained in the next section.

 

Experiential Stewardship (Available November - May)

Our Experiential Stewardship programming was created because students must love the land to be stewards of it, and the best way to love it is to get out in it! We often encounter kids even in local communities who do not know how to be comfortable and have fun in the winter months especially. These programs are also highly adaptable, and if you have any interests that are not captured in the content below, please do not hesitate to let us know.

  • Overnight Trips (Variety of Educational Programming Support)
  • Winter Survival Snow Day (Half Day)
  • 'Meet the Winter' Interpretive Hike/Snowshoe (Half Day)

If you, as an educator or leader can think of any other way in which we can support you and your youth program, please do not hesitate to contact us!

 

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