Youth Conservation Council members meet to discuss how to get kids outdoors

Left+to+right%3A+Maxwell+Spitler%2C+Eli+Wiitala%2C+Tanner+Peterson%2C+and+Maggie+Staub+hold+up+fishing+lures+made+during+the+second+day+of+the+meeting.+The+entire+meeting+lasts+three+days+and+covers+multiple+topics.+

Alexis Weeden

Left to right: Maxwell Spitler, Eli Wiitala, Tanner Peterson, and Maggie Staub hold up fishing lures made during the second day of the meeting. The entire meeting lasts three days and covers multiple topics.

Alexis Weeden, Assistant Editor-in-Chief

Nineteen members of the Michigan Youth Conservation Council met over the weekend at the Ralph A. MacMullen Conference Center in Roscommon, Michigan. The intent of this meeting was to discuss projects focused on getting kids outside into Michigan’s natural spaces. Members range from ages 15-18 and include students from varying backgrounds and experiences.

“To me YCC is a way that I can help kids my age get outside,” said Maggie Staub, one of the older members of the council and a student at Northern Michigan University. 

Members go to four meetings a year, one per season, to brainstorm and plan community projects and activities. They also learn a variety of new skills, like lure making, pointing out constellations, and using a compass, all with the hope that they can take these skills back to their communities to inspire children to play outside. 

Speakers are rotated through on the first day of the meeting.This winter’s meeting focused on the delisting of the Kirtland Warbler off of the endangered species list back in November, Project Wild and Project Trees, and finally building fishing lures with Project Fish. 

Many members say that they’ve gained leadership experience from being members of YCC and that it’s overall a good learning experience.

“YCC is a great learning experience as well as a great way to learn about possible career opportunities,” said Tanner Peterson, a high school senior from Negaunee, Michigan and a member of the 2020 Council.

Each day of the meeting includes an aspect of team-building in the form of a game or an ice-breaker, or if the weather is good, a group hike. This year that included obstacle courses which were done while participants were blind-folded, and games commonly played at elementary school camps that were instructed by a Project Wild educator. Additionally, many members spend a lot of time outside during breaks, in fact a love of the outdoors is the reason many people in the group joined.

“I joined YCC because of my love for the outdoors,” said Staub.