Conservation Works has been focused on building youth leadership skills for over eight years. Our work teaches and mentors youth to help build the knowledge and skills to enact good ethics with a strong sense of purpose, develop the identity and habits necessary for becoming a change-maker in their community, and provide opportunities to learn and grow through "giving back."
Today's youth spend less time outdoors than any other generation, often devoting only minutes to outdoor activities per day. Our youth projects teach confidence-building skills, which come through mentoring as well as practice, and we provide both. Our programs recognize that most youth have a curiosity about the natural world around them. When challenged by the tasks of daily living—whether poverty, broken homes, community ills, homelessness or other stressors—youth often cannot carve out time for caring about the environment Yet, studies have shown that outdoor time in nature is essential to healthy life and feeling purposeful.
Our youth environmental education projects provide that sense of purpose, while building confidence in each individual participants. A sense of purpose has been shown to be positively correlated to mental and emotional well-being. Developmentally, the period from childhood through adolescence is when humans develop strong bonds with their community, gain their sense of identity and begin to experience a desire for purpose. Among youth, purpose is often realized when they learn they can make a difference. Our work demonstrates that simple actions can allow anyone to engage meaningfully on projects addressing climate change and other 21st century environmental challenges facing our planet today. Our environmental education projects provide that opportunity, while building confidence in each individual participant.
All of our youth environmental education programs include an element of on-the-ground change directly involving children connecting with the outdoors while becoming our future change-makers.