USFW 2010 Award

Program Contact: Seth Wendzel, Experiential Education Coordinator
509-667-6540 • seth.wendzel@wsu.edu

“U.S. Fish and Wildlife Connecting Youth with Nature through Natural Resources Conservation Education Award”

2010 Winner

ecostew2010awardPresented March 24, 2010 at the 75th North American Wildlife and Natural Resource Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, sponsored by the Wildlife Management Institute.

This award represents a partnership between 4-H National Headquarters, CSREES, USDA and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Dept of the Interior. Additional support for this award is provided by the Wildlife Management Institute, the Boone and Crockit Club, and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

Teens learn environmental and life skills

By Betsy Fradd, WSU Extension 4-H

Teens are making a difference in their lives, their community and their futures through their work with WSU 4-H Eco-Stewardship.

4-h-main-photo_001“This program changed my life,” said Briana Head, 19, of Cashmere. “It offered me a chance to learn new things, and it opened the doors of opportunity and careers.”

“The 4-H Eco-Stewardship Program has a unique impact on young people,” said WSU Chelan County Extension Director Ray Faini. Head, who restored trails and worked at two fish hatcheries, said she benefited from meeting adults who already are working in their fields and who encouraged her to stay in school. “Youth work with forestry and wildlife experts to insure their efforts are accurate and reflect critical thinking skills,” Faini said. “Teens stay in school and move into college or careers and have better chances for meaningful employment.”

“The youth in our program know they are making a significant difference in their community and the local environment,” said Kevin Powers, program director. “The program is tailored to the 4-H model. Our students keep journals, do presentations and go in the field sharing their learning and knowledge with others.”

Variety of projects, activities In its eighth year, the program has served more than 18,000 teens from Chelan and Douglas counties. Youth participating in high school and summer programs assist with Chinook and Coho salmon spawning projects, monitor water quality and quantity in regional streams and rivers, and work with revegetation efforts to reduce erosion and improve fish spawning habitat. More than 30 local, state and federal agencies partner with the program, providing guidance and direction in projects including restoration and maintenance of wilderness lakes, streams and trail systems. Recycling programs in schools reduce the carbon footprint and impacts on landfills.

Among a host of environmental projects and activities, the north-central Washington teens tag salmon, track mule deer and build trails. Funding cuts a threat Facing elimination due to budget cuts, the eco-stewardship program recently was honored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (see earlier article). A $10,000 award, along with additional state money, will allow the program to continue for a short time while other funding is sought.Helping the Leavenworth Hatchery with Salmon Tagging

The award recognizes outstanding 4-H program development, implementation and evaluation in wildlife 4-h-secondary-photo_001conservation and environmental education. The Connecting Youth with Nature Through Natural Resources Conservation Education Award honors one program each year, and only the top 4-H programs in the nation, called “Programs of Distinction,” qualify. The award is a partnership between 4-H National Headquarters, Cooperative Research, Education and Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of the Interior, and the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Washington State University