Investing in Our YouthÖ

Developing Michiganís Natural Resource and Outdoor Stewards

Todayís youth have more options than ever before to spend their free time. In Michigan and across the country, there is a decline in the number of youth getting involved in traditional outdoor activities such as fishing, hunting or general outdoor enjoyment. Recent research states that experience outdoors, especially during childhood, may be the single most important influence on how people think about the environment. Investing in our youth is important. Youth under the age of 18 make-up more than 25% of Michiganís population, that is about two and a half million young people. In the tri-county area of Wayne, Macomb, and Oakland counties, close to one million of Michiganís youth reside.

How best do we meet young peoples need for positive role models and experiences? How can we ensure that youth will live happy and productive adult lives? One way is by spending time with youth doing outdoor activities they love, which in turn can develop life skills and a lifetime of environmental stewardship.

Vision

To enhance Michiganís youth and families through environmental education and outdoor experiences in the effort to nurture stewardship and leadership related to their natural resources

Goals

To develop young peopleís knowledge of interrelationships of clean air, water, soils, and healthy fish and wildlife populations and promote stewardship of the land.

Introductory and awareness programming with at least 5000 youth will take place by September 2001. These events may include but are not limited to Michigan State Fair, MUCCís Outdoorama, summer youth camp programs, festivals and County Conservation Days.

Train and support adult mentors to facilitate local youth programs related to outdoors and natural resources education.

  • Conduct 30 volunteer leader-training workshops in outdoor and aquatic education by April 2001. These workshops will result in 600 trained volunteer leaders to work with youth at the local level. If each leader worked with 20 youth that would translate into over 12,000 youth participants.
  • Begin offering local grants to youth clubs focused on outdoor and/or aquatic education. These grants would be for equipment, training opportunities, and community service projects. Ten grants of up to 500 dollars would be offered to clubs by 2002.

Nurture the current partners in our efforts:

  • Michigan Department of Natural Resources
  • Michigan Steelheaders
  • Michigan United Conservation Clubs
  • Gander Mountain Stores
  • Michigan Sea Grant
  • Michigan Charter Boat Association
  • Great Lakes Fishery Trust
  • Michigan State University
  • Fisheries and Wildlife Department, MSU Extension,
  • 4-H Youth Development Programs
  • Shakespeare Fishing Tackle
  • The Worth Company
  • Northland Tackle Company
  • Kreinik Fly Division
  • Wright & McGill Co.
  • SpeedBall Art
  • Nasco, Inc
  • Oregon Pacific
  • O.Mustad & Son
  • Plastilite Corporation
  • Berkley
  • Cortland Line Company
  • Plano, Inc.
  • Component Systems Inc.
  • Pro-Locker Inc.
  • Water Gremlin

Facilitate urban program development through workshops, resources and activities in the Oakland, Macomb, and Wayne County area

Impacts

Long term monitoring of fishing, hunting and other recreational activity license sales through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources will help determine program success.

Continued evaluation of program participants to access current and long-term implications

Increased number of youth and families participating in outdoor recreation and natural resources education through clubs and other events.

Increased list of collaborations and partnerships with a variety of organizations and industry

An increased number of urban youth enrolled in college programs related to natural resource careers

Current Programs

  • Project FISH (Friends Involved in Sportfishing Heritage) is a long-term, mentor-based volunteer sportfishing and aquatic resources education program focusing on aquatic ecology, angling skills, tackle crafting, and fish management and ethics. In 1998-99, nearly 5,000 youth participated in a Project FISH organized program
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  • Environmental Stewardship 4-H Programs had over 36,000 youth participate in 1998 and 55 youth ages 13-15 participated at 4-H Great Lakes and Natural Resources Camp to foster teen leadership

  • 4-H Michigan Youth Conservation Council a newly established program with teen leaders to research key issues related to Michiganís natural resources and make recommendations to the Governor, the Natural Resources Commission, and the Legislature on long-term policies pertaining to conservation, protection and sound management of the stateís natural resources.
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  • The 4-H Shooting Sports Program had over 3,000 youth participate in 1998. The 4-H Shooting Sports youth education program incorporates Project Leopold and other wildlife education programs and provides leader certification workshops in Archery, Riflery, Shotgun, Hunting and Wildlife
  • A Southeast Michigan Natural Resources Outreach Coordinator has touched 1,800 youth since February 1999. This staff person will continue to develop outdoor programs for youth and families, particularly in hunting and fishing. Efforts are currently focused on Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties

The 21 st Century and Beyond

Expanding program efforts into the 21st century include a variety of possibilities.

Utilizing multimedia technology to reach schools, volunteers, math and science centers with web, computer, Desk to video conferencing and video learning opportunities.

Coordinate collaborative efforts to develop increased access and opportunities in the outdoors for youth and families. Possible opportunities may include an increased number of school ship experiences for youth, fishing pier construction, Marine and Hunter safety courses during and after school.

Partners that may be added to those already listed include other youth serving organizations, watershed groups, manufacturers, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and sportsmenís clubs.

A coordinated voucher system to allow youth and families who have participated in our programs to purchase equipment at a discount price, which leads to increased accessibility and activity. Tracking capability would be possible for participants after program participation.

An established and community based youth outdoor club in every county in Michigan

Have a network of over 1000 volunteers throughout Michigan who are working with youth under the age of 18

Develop a College Scholarship to enhance recruitment of teens into undergraduate programs related to natural resources.