2017 Northwest Youth Leadership Summit

The Northwest Youth Leadership Summit, now in its eighth year, is for young adults (ages 14-22) in the Pacific Northwest who have participated in outdoor, leadership, and/or stewardship programs. In 2017, graduate student Amy Sanchez attended the event, led a presentation, and enjoyed the festivities.

In Amy’s own words:

As a student in the Graduate M.Ed. program, there are a number of opportunities to learn beyond schoolwork. My Work Study position as a Youth Leadership Adventures Graduate Assistant has been no exception to that. After returning from our Natural History Field course in the second week of October, I jumped into the swift moving river of planning the 2017 Northwest Youth Leadership Summit. This year was the eighth  Summit to take place, and the second time it’s been hosted at The Mountaineers in Seattle, Washington.

A group picture taken at the end of the day to commemorate a successful Summit; photo by Jodi Broughton.

Leading up to the Summit, I had the pleasure of working with and learning from an amazing team of individuals of staff from the North Cascades Institute, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie Forest Service, and Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. They provided  insight into the immense amount of work that goes into coordinating an event for 150 young adults. Participants were given the chance to reconnect with fellow peers, many who had participated in outdoor programs, as well as with potential employers, internship opportunities, and college representatives. In addition to the  to networking, the Summit provided folks with workshops that included a wide range of topics and activities including a college prep presentation, an obstacle challenge course, and opportunities to discuss identity in the outdoors.

Crystal Sierra (left) and Alicia Raftery (right) excited for their chance to emcee the day’s events; photo by Jodi Broughton

We tried to make the Summit event as accessible to participants as possible.  All participants were provided with access to transportation both to and from the Summit. Shuttles and busses picked up groups from as far north as Bellingham, and as far south as Tukwila. My day began at 5:30am as I prepared myself to fulfill my role as a shuttle driver. After making sure I went through all of the safety checks, I made my way to the first pick up spot of the “Upriver Shuttle” in Rockport.

Summit group, Mount Shuksan, enjoying their lunch; photo by Jodi Broughton.

That is when I met Tavish, a local of Rockport and a well-known member of Youth Leadership Adventures (YLA). Tavish excitedly the Youth Leadership Summit with two, first-time participants we picked up from Darrington High School. The drive to Seattle was filled with chatter, and I learned more about everyone’s connection to the Summit and what excited them about the outdoors. One of the participants, Kal, seemed like an adventurous individual with ambitions to pursue mountaineering, while Tavish and Maggie had recounted the community-building they experienced while on their YLA backpacking trips. Listening to them share their stories was a great precursor for the event to come.

Bonanza Peak Summit group!

Upon arriving to the Summit, I popped my shuttle driver hat off and put on my Summit Guide helmet. Summit Guides are represent programs who have served as past mentors for many people in attendance. We were there to help students plan their day and answer questions. My group consisted of Taylor, Erin and Kai – second time attendees- and Logan and Aiden. Logan and Aiden were pretty jazzed for the Climb On! breakout session. After a tasty bagel and an overview of the Summit provided by the two emcees of the day, Alicia Raftery and Crystal Sierra, we went our separate ways to attend breakout sessions.

Pictured on the far left, Taylor presented at the “Tracing Identity and Perspective in the Outdoors,” breakout session; photo by Amy Sanchez.

Breakout Sessions made up most of the day. Students were allowed to pick breakout sessions based on their interests.  Sessions provided a wide range of topics including: college prep and leadership development, climbing walls and obstacle courses, learning backpacking skills, and discussions on political advocacy. I led the session “Adulting: Let’s Build a Resume!” . My goal was to help students with their resumes and professional development. I then attended the “Tracing Identity and Perspective in the Outdoors,” led by Taylor, who shared her experience as a deaf person in the outdoors. Lastly, I hopped over to the “Climb On!” breakout session to snap some photos of participants taking on the climbing wall.

Participants enjoying the bouldering wall; photo by Amy Sanchez.

Participants then had the chance to roam the opportunity fair! There were a number of organizations available for folks to network with, i.e. the Student Conservation Association, Glacier Peak Institute, Latino Outdoors, Seattle Audubon, InterIM WILD, Islandwood, Northwest Indian College.

A representative from Glacier Peak Institute sharing some FUNgi facts! Photo by Amy Sanchez.

This year the Student Open Space activity closed the Summit. Participants submitted ideas that they were interested in discussing throughout the day. They then had the chance to pick a table with topics laid out on the table that revolved around a central theme. The conversations were student led and intended to give everyone  a chance to voice their views. Topics included “Communication in Nature: Storytelling & Teaching,” “Gender and Sexuality in the Outdoors,” “Climate Change & Policy,” “Underrepresented Groups in the Outdoors,” and many more.

Letting their voices be heard at this year’s Open Space activity; photo by Jodi Broughton.

Despite the cold and rainy weather, the day still ended with a successful ice cream social!

Thank you to all of the engaged participants, the partners and volunteers who helped everything go smoothly, and the incredible planning team who worked so hard to make this day a success!

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