Just for Kids

Youth Taking Action Environmental Challenge


The Youth Taking Action Environmental (YTA) Challenge is a Forest Service conservation education and rewards program that encourages youth to become active in the outdoors while caring for the environment. Youth can volunteer to be YTA members by accepting a challenge that defines an environmental issue. After YTA members complete a challenge, they will provide documentation to the National Forests in Alabama and receive awards.

Join the YTA Environmental Challenge

Register Today! Email pa_alabama@fs.fed.us 

How Do I Get Involved ?

Students, parents and teachers can register by emailing pa_alabama@fs.fed.us of your interest in the YTA Environmental Challenge. A message will automatically come to the National Forests in Alabama Public Affairs Department.

Target Audience: K- 12th grades

Contact: U.S. Forest Service, Tammy Freeman Brown at (334) 241-8144 or tfreemanbrown@fs.fed.us

  1. Send an e-mail to pa_alabama@fs.fed.us expressing interest to participate in program.
  2. Online teaching resources are located on the Forest Service Just for Kids page.
  3. YTA team members can complete a challenge by defining an environmental issue at school, home or in the community. Visit the Forest Service website for action plan templates.  Members can email completed plans and photographs that show actions taken to address an environmental issue. During the challenge time frame, email items to pa_alabama@fs.fed.us.
  4. After action plans and photos are received, the Forest Service will mail, deliver, or you can pick-up rewards from the closest district office.
  5. YTA photos will be displayed on the Forest Service website.

Award Levels Requirements

Level 1 Awards - Youth will submit a photograph of themselves completing a challenge -planting a tree, exercising outdoors, picking up trash and saving energy.

Level 2 Awards - Youth will submit photographs, document days implementing a challenge (at least 3-5 days), and write a one page essay about what they learned during the challenge. Another option for Level 2 awards will be to take a picture while visiting a national forest and submit an essay about their experience.

Level 3 awards - YTA Teams will submit an action plan that explains how they implemented actions in a school, a national forest or community. They will contact a Forest Service office to discuss the action plan and publicity.

Optional – For participants who are not interested in submitting images can write a one-page essay and visit a Forest Service district office or central office to have a YTA card stamped. For additional information, please contact 334-241-8144.

YTA Environmental Challenges

Challenge One – “Plant A Tree” (“Tree Planting” – PLT activity). The concept taught is organisms are interdependent. The objectives are: 1. Identify ways that urban trees enrich lives. 2. Determine how people care for urban trees. 3. Identify areas in the community that would benefit from having more trees. 4. Plant a tree in your yard and/or organize and execute an “YTA” team tree planting project in the local area.

Challenge Two – “Stop the Pollution” (“Pollution Search” - PLT activity). The concept taught is pollutants, which are harmful by products of humans and natural systems can enter the ecosystems in various ways. The objectives of the activity are to identify forms of pollution and describe its effects on people, wildlife, and plants. Students will individually recycle and/or organize a community or school clean-up or recycling project.

Challenge Three – “Go Outdoors Fitness” (“Earth Manners” PLT activity). Leisure and recreational pursuits can have an impact on forest and other resource-producing areas will be the concept taught to students. The objective is student will express appropriate ways to treat living things and leave no trace ethics in national forest, parks, or natural areas. Students will document days and times (at least 30 minutes 3 times a week) spent enjoying the outdoors, camping, playing in parks, horseback riding, and riding bikes. Teams can organize a project to host an outdoor activity or organize an environmental safari game.

Challenge Four – “A Greener You Climate Change Challenge”(“Waste Watchers” PLT activity). Conservation and management can enhance and extend resource and improve the environment. The objective is for student to identify ways to save energy in their daily lives and explain how saving energy can reduce air pollution. Individual and/or YTA Teams will conduct a home audit and develop projects to reduce waste in their school and community.

Online Resources

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Junior Forest Ranger

The Junior Forest Ranger program is for kids ages 7 to 13. Earn your badge by completing activities in the adventure guide.

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Natural Inquirer

The Natural Inquirer contains articles on scientific research conducted by scientists at USDA on nature, such as trees, forests, wildlife, insects, outdoor activities, and water.

NatureWatch Icon


NatureWatch is a partnership program of the U.S. Forest Service that provides nature viewing opportunities, encourages safe and sound viewing ethics and contributes to local economies.

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Smokey Bear

Smokey Bear provides Americans information on the importance of outdoor fire safety and wildfire prevention.