The Outdoor Foundation is pleased to present Outdoor Nation California Action Awards winners. Four individuals were awarded $2,500 for the best, most innovative, project ideas for how to strengthen environmental literacy in the state of California. This award was designed to allow youth to grow as leaders and influencers within their community while addressing one of the most challenging issues facing young people today – environmental illiteracy. Winning projects are youth-led and empower young people to be part of the decision making process related to environmental literacy. After all, who better to have a voice in outdoor education than the students themselves!
Spearheaded by high school youth in Truckee, California, the 1% Project introduces a civic engagement component to a place-based environmental science course. Traditionally, students have focused solely on developing curriculum and exploring local landscapes and waterways. The students are now including a high profile campaign to showcase their findings to local decision-makers, media outlets and peers – raising awareness about the outdoors and precious resource of water. Students will share information they have learned to influence peers, community members, key stakeholders, and policy makers about the issues of water and importance of the environment and outdoor activities.
The Canopy Environmental Leadership Project brings together young leaders in East Palo Alto to design an environmental and civic engagement program to teach leadership skills and stewardship ethics for nearby open spaces. The project will provide participating youth with outreach training as well as on-the-ground experiences – resulting in knowledgeable young leaders who will promote environmental and outdoor benefits to media outlets and elected officials. As an outcome of this project, youth leaders will develop a presentation and outreach materials that showcase the importance of the local parks and natural spaces – sharing their passion and influencing younger peers, civic leaders and the broader community.
Led by high school young leaders, students in the Homestead High School AP Environmental Science classes are creating an organization with public relations, graphic design and advocacy departments – helping youth understand the important role that outreach and communications plays in enviromental work. The students focus on an environmental problem, research its cause, pose a solution, and market it to the community. The project culminates in a presentation to experts in the field. The goal of this project is to produce a comprehensive campaign that promotes an environmental cause. This campaign will be presented to the public and, as such, students are expected to conduct themselves as professionals so that their cause is respected.
Led by a youth group in Pacoima, the Youth United Towards Environmental Protection (YUTEP) project provides opportunities for local young people to explore the nearby San Gabriel Mountains and use that experience in an effort to advance environmental justice issues in the North East San Fernando Valley. This project allows youth to see first hand many of the issues that are at the center of their activism. Young people will capture the outdoor experiences through social media and photography -- leveraging the images and experience to drive support and awareness for the preservation of wild areas in Los Angeles County. As capstone of this project, youth will develop a presentation for elected officials and schedule meetings with key leaders to advocate for outdoor programs and preservation of wild areas.