In regular meetings, member organizations collaborated to identify several priority areas to guide the coalitions efforts.
These priority areas include
Bringing Youth Leaders Together
This priority is focused on providing opportunities for youth leaders to engage regionally and across organizational boundaries. We have already begun mapping out programs in order to better identify tangible opportunities for collaboration, like joint projects, or ways in which different programs can support one another, such as through referrals or shared resources.
The coalition has also begun planning a YES Conference for October 2019 which will provide an opportunity for youth leaders from across the region to come together and explore stewardship at a higher level. We have secured a location and date and are in the process of soliciting input from organizations and from youth in order to determine a program schedule and reach out to potential speakers and facilitators. Overall, our intention is to give young people the skills, motivation, and capacity to engage as active citizens, build self-confidence, and recognize new ways to steward and conserve Colorado’s natural resources in their own communities and beyond.
Expanding Access and Engaging Diverse Audiences
Our coalition recognizes that integrating diverse voices and perspectives into our work is crucial, both in regard to conservation goals and outcomes and for ensuring that all young people have equal access to the benefits that meaningful experiences in nature provide. It is essential that we continue to involve new audiences and incorporate their assets and needs into conservation and stewardship work. However, we know that many organizations and individuals still lack the skillset or the mindset to confidently engage diverse communities.
That said, youth organizations are at the forefront of this effort across the region, particularly with regards to the field of stewardship, and this committee is exploring how we can drive the work of building an inclusive culture across our field. We recognize that many coalition members are already engaging diverse audiences but that by linking our efforts, we can close gaps in access and better meet the needs of those groups who aren’t already engaged. We are still exploring the best avenues to achieve these goals and provide the best resources to organizations and individuals involved.
Creating Shared Resources, Trainings, and Curricula
One of the first challenges that coalition members identified was a perceived lack of resources that effectively integrate stewardship education or training and youth development. Although trainings exist through avenues like OSI, they frequently lack sufficient direction towards adapting those resources for youth audiences, leaving each individual organization to develop its own approach. Our goal is to facilitate the creation of collaborative trainings that organizations can use to engage youth in leadership and stewardship; in addition, we also plan to accumulate and integrate existing trainings so that there is a clear standard moving forward.
The YES coalition intends to build on our initial progress around these initiatives while maintaining a focus on our underlying goal: to strengthen our shared goal of expanding environmental stewardship and youth leadership in conservation through collaboration and partnership. We welcome new voices and perspectives as we seek to grow these efforts and build support and momentum throughout the Front Range and across the state of Colorado.
Let’s build something great together.
The Coalition has identified several priorities for 2020, including: building organizational capacity through shared resources, trainings, networking, and pathways for youth development; assessing and magnifying our individual and collective impact; and expanding access to partner and coalition events, including the YES Conference and other regular opportunities. We’ve also formalized our structure to ensure that partners take ownership over the direction and outcomes of the coalition and to ensure that the coalition continues to meet the needs of both our partners and the youth we serve.