SEATTLE - Washington kids and their views on the environment were in the
spotlight on Thursday. The public listening session in Seattle for
America's Great Outdoor Initiative included a special youth forum, where
federal agency representatives asked what it will take to get more
young people outside and interested in becoming good stewards of the
country's natural resources.
Saul Weisberg, executive director of the North Cascades Institute,
says the next generation is getting the conservation message.
"What I was really struck with, especially when working with high school
kids - there was no despair. All the stuff that they could've been
depressed about when they look at the environment - they were just,
'You've had your time; it's our time. We want our chance.' They're
ready. Sometimes, we just have to get out of their way."
One of the forum participants was 16-year-old Laura Humes, a junior at
Shorewood High School. She says you have to experience the outdoors
firsthand to really appreciate it. After being at a month-long summer
camp and study program at North Cascades National Park, she went home to
Shoreline and passed along what she'd learned by organizing a nature
field trip for younger kids.
"We brought all 80 kids together at one of our local parks. They got to
go on short hikes and plant trees, and explore how composting works -
just play games outdoors, get 'em really excited about their local
The group heard that one key to environmental awareness in adulthood is a
person's outdoor experiences in childhood, especially with parents and
mentors, but a lot of today's kids are missing out on these experiences.
Recommendations from the listening sessions will be given to President
Obama in a report later this year.