Getting Youth Hooked on Nature

The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming encourages youth to embrace nature.

Lander, WY | October 21, 2011

Grab a camera, watch wildlife or join the Rangeland Institute intern program. The Nature Conservancy challenges youth to embrace the many opportunities and experiences the organization offers.

“Compared to youth across the country, kids in Wyoming spend more time outdoors,” says Andrea Erickson Quiroz, state director for the Conservancy in Wyoming. “What we want to do is provide high quality experiences through our programs. We know it will make a difference for our future, too.”

A recent survey shows 66-percent of youth who reported having a personal experience in nature that made them appreciate it more were twice as likely to view themselves as conservationists.

The Conservancy in Wyoming offers projects that get kids from ages three and up connected with nature and wildlife as well as educated on important land and water issues. One of the fastest growing initiatives is the chapter’s Rangeland Institute which connects college students with practical conservation work that correlates with their studies. The internship prepares students for careers in resource management. Soon, the scholarship program will expand to include learning opportunities beyond the summer internship.

The Conservancy also encourages families to get in on the action, including a recent public event at Red Canyon Ranch. A husband and wife team invited community members to plant a tree and wishes on recycled paper in an effort to raise awareness about the importance connecting with nature and local habitat.

A creative connection is the Conservancy’s annual “I Believe in Conservation” high school photo contest which provides an opportunity for teenagers to showcase their relationships with Wyoming’s wild places and working landscapes. "This contest is a great way to inspire high school students to spend more time outside and to look at nature in different and creative ways,” says Erickson. The chapter has been working with several high schools each spring and is hoping to expand the contest to more high schools in the future. To view a slideshow of this year’s winners visit

Youth of any age can pack a picnic, take a hike or watch wildlife at one of Conservancy’s preserves or ranches. Plus, there are all kinds of creative tools and resources through our online Nature Rocks Program. For example, a Nature Treasure Hunt offers a free, fun, family activity to enjoy in your own backyard, or at a local park.

“Today’s youth are going to be the innovators of new solutions that will preserve Wyoming’s way of life,” adds Erickson. “We’re doing what we can to get them hooked now!”

There are other bonuses to getting kids outdoors. They’re healthier, less stressed and happier.

To learn more about The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming, visit

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at

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Tracy Kiest

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