Youth Water Leadership Program
2020 Innovative EE Program Award Recipient
The Youth Water Leadership Program creates authentic student-centered learning experiences that increase watershed literacy through civic action. This nationally relevant program reaches 1200 student contacts annually. Its values of being place-based, action-oriented, solutions-focused, youth-driven, hopeful, and equitable are woven throughout the entire program. The goal of the program is to increase student participation in river, water, and climate change issues and solutions through active civic engagement; ultimately broadening students’ perspective. This is fostered through developing culturally relevant student connections to their watershed and exposure to local environmental issues and careers in natural resources and STEM fields. Secondary and undergraduate students from the Roaring Fork Watershed are the primary audience.
In 2020 the audience is broadening to include students from the entire Upper Colorado River Basin with the inclusion of virtual programming. Fostering dialogue among students, teachers, water policy decision makers, and resource professionals is essential to the success of the program. The culminating annual signature event, the Healthy Rivers Youth Water Summit brings participants together to learn, engage in dialogue, and take action on watershed issues in a public form. The YWLP includes a Youth Water Leader Team, educator professional development, the Youth River Voices blog, Student Civic Water Workshop where students are mentored in investigating an issue they are concerned about and prepare a call-to-action to present to decision and policy makers during the Youth Water Summit. The YWLP is consistently supported with over 15 returning generous financial sponsors and more than 20 programmatic partners.