Wisconsin students interested in the outdoors are invited to join the Youth Conservation Congress. This statewide youth program is designed to grow and develop future conservation leaders across the state. The Youth Conservation Congress (YCC) is a student extension of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress.
The purpose of YCC is to give young people a voice and instill a sense of ownership, civic pride and advocacy for Wisconsin’s natural resources. The YCC strives to effectively engage, educate, and involve youth in the management and protection of our natural resources and foster a conservation ethic through participation in the program.
The YCC program offers opportunities for students from all backgrounds, including seasoned outdoor enthusiasts and novices alike. Although the program is best suited for high school students, younger individuals are welcome to apply.
“I am especially excited about this program because it allows youth an incredible opportunity to work directly with a variety of natural resource managers and experienced outdoor mentors,” said YCC Coordinator Kyle Zenz, who is working to connect more students across the state with the YCC. “Our mission is to provide students with access and the opportunity to follow their outdoor passions whether they are hunting and fishing related or natural resource career driven.”
YCC student delegates are exposed to various aspects of natural resource management and have access to professionals in those fields. Students also receive real-world experience through a variety of service-learning opportunities.
By joining, members gain an understanding of the process for how Wisconsin’s natural resource policy is determined, including the role and history of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress – the state’s statutorily recognized citizen advisory body.
“I enjoy learning about conservation across the state, as well as volunteering directly with the DNR,” said YCC delegate Samantha Hammiller (pictured at left), of Racine, who has eagerly engaged in all that the YCC has to offer. “One of my most memorable outdoor experiences would have to be pheasant stocking with local DNR staff. I loved learning from this hands-on opportunity, especially knowing that I am contributing to wildlife management.” Samantha will be attending the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point (UWSP) next fall and has already connected with UWSP staff as well as natural resource leaders in the state due to her involvement with the YCC. “The YCC really allows you to explore options for your future and network across the entire state with adult and youth delegates and DNR personnel along with other agencies and conservation groups,” she said.
The YCC program mirrors the Conservation Congress’s focus on county level initiatives. County Congress members serve as mentors and as a point of local contact for the YCC delegates.
Youth who are interested in the program should contact Kyle Zenz with questions about the YCC and how to apply for the program. More information is available here.