Environmental Leadership for Youth Camp
When you think of scientists, what comes to mind? Lab coats and microscopes? Beakers and goggles? These images are how science is often portrayed through media, but for many youth—especially in underserved communities—it might be the only impression they have.
Which is why Guillermo Giannico and Ivan Arismendi, both professors in AgSci's Department of Fisheries & Wildlife, created the Environmental Leadership for Youth camp, which offers teens an opportunity to better understand science, and more importantly, how it connects to the world around them.
Funded by the Meyer Memorial Trust, the goal of the camp is to show kids from underserved communities the possibilities that exist for careers in natural resources and conservation. This includes making them aware of opportunities in NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that are major employers in the Oregon economy, such as the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB), which receives funding from the Oregon Lottery to restore watersheds and natural habitats. Watershed Councils have recognized a lack of diversity in their ranks, and Ana Lu Fonseca in OSU’s Outreach and Engagement has been working with them on issues related to equity and inclusion.
The camp was created in partnership with the Outdoor Leadership Institute and Multicultural Summer Camps, which are organized by Mario Magaña Álvarez in Extension’s 4-H Youth Development program. It is designed to expose teens to the outdoors in an engaging way. “Many of theses underserved youth don’t think of the outdoors as a resource they have rights to,” said lead organizer Guillermo Giannico, who hopes the teens will become Willamette River ambassadors and eventually counselors who teach in the program.
About the Camp
Thirty high-schoolers were given the trip of a lifetime: four days of the full college experience at Oregon State University that included river rafting and mountain hikes.The teens slept in dorm rooms, were given meal cards for campus dining halls, and explored simulated coursework in college classrooms. But more importantly, they got direct contact and one-on-one time with professors, grad students, and undergrads. This allowed them to ask questions and have conversations about college life and career paths in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.
The four day camp was organized in a way that demonstrated an overview of watersheds and ecology, following the journey of a water droplet through various ecosystems within the landscape.