By Emily Ford and Ginna Malley Campos
On Friday November 6th, a voice broke the frosty air: “Who wants to be a leader?!” Cheers echoed across emerald Diablo Lake and up the cloudy slopes of Sourdough Mountain. Sixty-one students from Washington and Oregon kicked off the beginning of an exciting weekend at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center.
The Youth Leadership Conference is an annual event where students with an interest in conservation as a career meet at the North Cascades Institute. The three day conference connects youth with major conservation partners through breakout sessions, projects, and wonderful discussions.
The sixth annual conference included students ages 14-22 who are alumni of North Cascades Institute’s youth programs (including Youth Leadership Adventures, North Cascades Wild, Cascades Climate Challenge, Mountain School and Kulshan Creek Neighborhood Youth Program) as well as other wilderness based programs such as Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Outdoor Opportunities (O2), Student Conservation Association (SCA), Darrington’s Youth Forestry Institute (YFI), and InterIm WILD.
Canoeing on Diablo Lake
Students started the weekend by catching up with old friends from their various summer programs. Together, they enjoyed a weekend of learning about service, jobs, internships, college, and summer program opportunities as well as developing professional skills to excel. Highlights from the weekend include:
Small Group Hikes: Students explored near-by nature trails, played games, learned natural history, and reflected on their past, present and future experiences in the North Cascades and other public lands.