Outdoor Nation! Sierra Club empowers youth to participate in national dialogue on the outdoors
This summer saw the implementation of the
largest national youth summit on the state of youth in the outdoors in
Sierra Club’s Building Bridges to the Outdoors program partnered with the Natural Leaders Network to bring a delegation of 50 youth to the summit, 25 from NYC and 15 from across the nation. Overall, Outdoor Nation brought together about 500 youth delegates from all 50 states to participate in the first of its kind Outdoor Festival and Youth Summit.
Outdoor Nation started with an open
Following the festival, youth delegates
participated in discussions and breakouts that resulted in a national youth-developed
agenda on connecting with the outdoors. The
“We are thrilled to partner with Outdoor Nation to create new opportunities to engage and empower youth in the effort to reconnect with the natural world,” says Tiffany Saleh, Sierra Club’s National Youth Outreach Representative. “The presence of our federal agencies at this event is just the icing on the cake. It really speaks to the high value the Obama Administration places on the priorities of our young leaders.”
In the evening, the Natural Leaders Network (NLN), an initiative of the Children & Nature Network, supported by The North Face and Sierra Club, held a reception in The North Face Showroom for our youth delegates and invited guests. During the reception, the NLN unveiled its newly-created toolkit, which gives Natural Leaders the know-how to establish networks of Natural Leaders, get outdoors and lead other young people on outings. “The toolkit shows that the doorway to nature is accessible to everybody, no matter where they live,” said Tara Arthur, one of NLN’s founding members.
During the reception, President of the North Face Steve Rendle, NLN National Coordinator Juan D. Martinez and BBTO’s National Youth Director Martin LeBlanc spoke about a range of topics. In a nutshell, there is a growing disconnect between youth and the outdoors, children are spending the equivalent of full-time work-week in front of television or computer screens, green space is becoming harder to access, yet there are tangible things that can be done to reconnect children with the outdoors.
Outdoor Nation spawned from a growing movement that has emerged to reconnect young people and the outdoors. The summit aimed to empower youth to redefine, reclaim and rediscover the outdoors.
“I knew that I wasn’t the only leader, but
the summit really showed me that there were tons of leaders just like me with
the same passion that I had. It made a spark in my life to accomplish bigger
goals and achieve better things,” said ICO Leader Christian Alvarado, a BBTO
youth delegate from