Each year, through Groundwork USA’s National Youth Leadership Initiatives, young people from across the network travel to national parks across the country to connect, explore, and expand their conservation skill sets through nine-day experiential learning sessions. Through these experiences, they step outside their comfort zone to increase their understanding of the interconnectedness of natural systems and grow their relationship with the outdoors. While the day-to-day programming differs in each park, all sessions include core elements designed to deepen participants’ connection to public lands, the environment, and each other.

  • Stewardship: Youth tackle a variety of conservation projects for the parks, including installing park amenities, trail maintenance, and historic preservation projects.
  • Recreation: At least two days are dedicated to park exploration and recreation activities, such as hiking, swimming, biking, and climbing.
  • Education: Each participant completes at least one conservation science project and participates in daily education sessions ranging from the history of the National Park Service to Indigenous art and culture.
  • Leadership Development: Youth explore different careers in conservation and the National Park Service.

In 2022, more than 100 young people participated in our National Leadership Programs. Check out our annual report to learn more about their impact and what they learned through their experiences.

Learn More About Our National Youth Initiative