Our youth represent the future, but their future will be different from anything we have seen before. This generation is maturing amongst a backdrop of rapidly emerging challenges,from the continued impacts of climate change, mental and physical health crises, and the division of an increasingly polarized political climate. To support youth in navigating this complex world, Sitka Conservation Society and others have invested in youth development. We are teaching and building the skills, values, and ideals that our youth will need to become future community members and leaders.
The USDA Southeast Alaska Sustainability Strategy have financially supported our youth through investments to expand SCS’s Alaska Way of Life 4-H Program, as well as researching lessons from local and regional youth development programs. For a meaningful program expansion, we turned to our neighbors – other Southeast Alaska communities. Our goal with this research was to identify ways that we can invest in and strengthen youth programming region-wide and for the long-term. Working with partners, we drew together case studies highlighting how communities from Yakutat to Ketchikan are creating opportunities for youth to strengthen their health and well-being, explore career pathways, and build connections to culture, place, and community. This research culminated in the following report, which synthesizes best practices, case studies, and our recommendations for policy, funding, and practitioner training.