Youth & Outreach

Urban Connections – Getting More Youth Outdoors

Julia Oleksiak - August 25, 2022
Flowering shrub in the foreground with a city skyline in the background set agains a blue sky with a few clouds.

Leave No Trace believes the outdoors is for everyone, no matter your age, hobbies, lifestyle, if you live in a city or a forest or anything else for that matter. In 2021 Leave No Trace had the honor of joining forces with the Eastern Region of the USDA Forest Service to aid and participate in their Urban Connections Program. This initiative engages diverse and underserved communities, particularly in metropolitan areas, and provides meaningful nature based educational programming and experiences that connect urban residents to the green space around them and to their National Forests.

The Urban Connections program is made possible through partnerships and collaboration with local partners, community organizations, and leaders. Our collaborators this year include the Shaw Nature Reserve & Missouri Botanic Garden outside of St Louis, Emerald Necklace Conservancy in Boston, Wilderness Inquiry in St. Paul, Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee, and Detroit Outdoors among others. Leave No Trace programming ranges from formal workshops and trainings for youth and youth educators to educational outreach at local parks and festivals. Carly Rhodes, Youth Programs Coordinator at Wilderness Inquiry, stated that the Leave No Trace workshops “give reason and language on why and how to protect our natural spaces. It builds empathy and is not preachy.” Through our Urban Connections partnership, Leave No Trace has been able to reach more than 2,200 youth and educate nearly 500 adults and youth educators in and around some of the largest cities in the U.S thus far in 2022, with more workshops planned for this fall.

Leave No Trace educator standing behind an outreach table with games and resources set out on the table.

Our goal, in partnership with the Forest Service, is to connect youth to the natural world and in turn help inspire them to be lifelong participants in protecting and caring for green spaces, from their backyard and local parks, to the backcountry and wilderness areas. Many Urban Connections workshop participants said they plan to incorporate Leave No Trace education and resources into their work and daily activities moving forward.

Leave No Trace looks forward to future collaboration and connections with groups we’ve met through this exciting and meaningful initiative!


Let’s protect and enjoy our natural world together

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