After having awesome (some have even said, “life-changing”) experiences on Chugach Children’s Forest Habitat Restoration Kayak Expeditions in Prince William Sound, the teen participants come back from their trips excited to do more with the Children’s Forest!
For many of the participants, the trips mark their first time camping, hiking, cooking meals outside, etc. They come back craving more opportunities to get outdoors AND they also want to tell other teens like themselves about how great it is to get out on Alaska’s public lands.
We capitalize on this excitement because – it’s a fact: youth will listen to their peers.
We give students opportunities to present about their experiences to other high school students, with the hope that some members of the audience will become interested and possibly join us on an expedition or an Outdoor Club event. So far this has been a very effective method to gain new recruits. Furthermore, it serves as a public speaking opportunity for the teens who present, which is a crucial component of leadership development.
Most recently, our staff member Freddie brought two of our expedition alum Lue (first expedition this summer) and Ka (three expeditions to date and one of our emerging leaders) to King Career Center to share about their experiences with Chugach Children’s forest to an afterschool class called “Introduction to the Outdoors.” These are the kinds of diverse local youth who have had their interest piqued by a partner (Mike Woods, Natural Resource Management Instructor at King Career Center) but have not had many opportunities to experience Alaska’s public lands — this means the interested students will make great nominees for next summer’s programs and our daylong Outdoor Club programs.
More importantly, Lue and Ka rocked it, answering all questions and sharing lots of detail about their experience. We will continue to mentor them to accept more public speaking opportunities and take on more of a youth leadership role in the Chugach Children’s Forest! We’re excited to see all they accomplish in the near future!