Excel as a High-Performing Agency

Native youth meet to foster aspiring indigenous leaders

The next generation of Native leaders are gaining the skills to address the environmental challenges in their communities. Forest Service photo.

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — The 2017 Native Youth Community Adaptation and Leadership Congress was held in July at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. The goal of the Congress is to foster an inclusive, meaningful, and educational event for aspiring Native youth leaders interested in addressing environmental issues facing Native American, Alaskan Native, and Pacific Islander communities.

The Congress teaches environmental change and conservation to develop leadership skills for addressing conservation issues in Native communities. The week-long event was an interactive learning opportunity where students explored a variety of topics through presentations, service projects, workshops, a career fair, and one-on-one interactions.

Congress participants now have the opportunity to apply for mini-grants to help start or continue activities that involve other students in resilience and adaptation projects in indigenous communities. 

This was the third annual Congress and included high school students from tribal communities located throughout the U.S., including Hawaii, Alaska and American Samoa. Attendance at the Congress was the highest ever with 104 students representing over 60 indigenous tribes and communities. Five Forest Service staff mentored students, discussed career and internship opportunities, and conducted workshops on citizen science.