Grand Teton Serving as Backdrop for Youth Congress On Children and Nature

Grand Teton National Park will serve as the backdrop next week for a youth congress designed to bring youth into the out-of-doors. NPT file photo by Kurt Repanshek.

How to get today's youth into the out-of-doors has been a hot topic just about ever since Richard Louv wrote Last Child in the Woods. In Wyoming, the folks at the Teton Science School have come upon a novel approach -- they're hosting the First Wyoming Youth Congress on Children and Nature and inviting students from all 48 of the state's school districts.

The conference is scheduled for October 15-18 at the school's Jackson campus, right outside Grand Teton National Park. The agenda is designed to provide "a structured setting to voice opinions, share visions, and identify new ideas related to their connection to the outdoors. These youth leaders will be empowered to effect change across the state of Wyoming by inspiring other youth, parents, teachers, and decision-makers to take action," the school noted in a release.

The Wyoming Youth Congress builds on the ideas presented in Mr. Louv’s book.

“The Wyoming Youth Congress stands out from the national dialogue because it represents the first time that kids themselves will have an opportunity to voice their ideas on this topic,” said Wayne Turner, Congress coordinator and Director of the Teacher Learning Center at Teton Science Schools.

Participants in the Wyoming Youth Congress will create Action Plans to implement innovative projects in their home communities focused on connecting kids to nature. The coordinators of the Wyoming Youth Congress will use the success of this idea as a model for other rural states confronting the same challenge to connect kids to the outdoors, according to the conference's organizers. To help achieve this goal, a student film crew will be producing a documentary on the Wyoming Youth Congress which will be shared with state and federal agencies and the general public.

Partners of the Wyoming Youth Congress include the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, The Conservation Fund, Grand Teton National Park Foundation, The Wyoming Children’s Fund of the Wyoming Community Foundation, The George B. Storer Foundation, Wyoming Governor’s Task Force on Recreation and the National Outdoor Leadership School.