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Building environmental youth leadership

Compiled by Nathan J. Meyer and Rebecca L. Meyer

A high-school service-learning curriculum

The Environmental Youth Leadership project was started to engage high school students in model service-learning projects. Students learn the foundations of good leadership through discussion, reflection, team building and mission building. They select and complete environmental restoration projects that benefit their communities.

In hopes of extending the Environmental Youth Leadership program, lessons planned and insights gained from the model process have been compiled in the curriculum guide (available below).

The first part of the guide defines and details key components of the service learning process. Narrative lesson plans focused on team/mission building and action planning comprise part two. When combined with existing studies or additional curricula, these provide teachers, youth leaders and families an effective means of cultivating environmental service.

The curriculum online

Download the complete curriculum (789 K PDF) and planning process guide for developing an environmental youth leadership team (updated July 2006).

View and print each section as a separate PDF:

  1. Project Planning & Processes (207 K PDF)
    Background information and process to guide development of service-learning programs.
  2. Journaling (82 K PDF)
    Team members create journals in which they may record insights and lessons learned through the service-learning experience.
  3. Similar and Different (45 K PDF)
    An ice-breaker where participants explore similarities and differences with peers.
  4. Name Toss (39 K PDF)
    A team-building initiative in which participants cooperate to memorize cohorts’ names.
  5. Common Waters (46 K PDF)
    Team members explore common knowledge, experiences and feelings about water
  6. A Watershed Puzzle (39 K PDF)
    Participants work in small groups to define water-related terms.
  7. Crossing Polluted Waters (43 K PDF)
    A team-building initiative in which participants cooperate to carry the group over a “polluted” river.
  8. Shrinking Watershed (40 K PDF)
    A team-building initiative which challenges the team to balance on an ever-shrinking environment.
  9. A Tangled Predicament (40 K PDF)
    A team-building initiative in which students collaborate to untangle a knotted rope.
  10. Orienteering (48 K PDF)
    Team members explore and experience orienteering, and apply lessons learned to better guide their service-projects.
  11. Ropes Course Trip (43 K PDF)
    Guidelines for teams planning ropes course trips.
  12. Observation & Adventure Trip (55 K PDF)
    Guidelines for planning an outdoor adventure focused on team-building, project identification, and expert advice.
  13. What is Youth Leadership? (39 K PDF)
    Participants define and explore basic tenants of leadership, applying these to management of their service project.
  14. Mission Shield (91 K PDF)
    Members explore personal interpretations of the team mission, connections and expectations for the project.
  15. Designing Team Mission (56 K PDF)
    Participants define qualities of solid vision and mission statements, and apply these to develop a team mission.
  16. Behavior Code (39 K PDF)
    Team members work develop lessons learned during team-building activities into a code of behavior to guide group expectations and interactions.
  17. Watershed Geography (43 K PDF)
    Participants explore the watershed concept through mapping local landscapes.
  18. Remedial Action (82 K PDF)
    Participants explore stresses and threats to the St. Louis River estuary through reading portions of the St. Louis River Citizens Action Committee’s Remedial Action Plan.
  19. Expert Advice (43 K PDF)
    The team defines needed information, questions, and invites an expert speaker for presentation.
  20. Refining the Details (42 K PDF)
    Small groups seek project-relevant information in the library, internet, etc.
  21. Duluth Streams (57 K PDF)
    Team members explore the Duluth Streams website through an informational scavenger hunt.
  22. Testing the Water (54 K PDF)
    Participants test water quality parameters at proposed project sites.
  23. Tasking Out the Project (76 K PDF)
    The team creates a plan of action for completing their project.
  24. Youth Volunteer Job Description (58 K PDF)
    A tool to help youth leaders define roles and responsibilities for youth interested in participating on a leadership team.
  25. Potential Projects and Partners (38 K PDF)
    A list of possible projects and partners for groups interested in Northern Minnesota environmental service projects.
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