Planting the Seeds of Stewardship along the Arizona National Scenic Trail
A Youth Outreach, Education & Stewardship InitiativeProject Purpose
The mission of the Seeds of Stewardship program is to provide educational and meaningful outdoor experiences that empower youth to become the next generation of stewards of Arizona's wild landscapes.
We work with youth within Arizona Trail gateway communities using a proven three-tiered approach of experience, education, and service learning. By engaging, inspiring and empowering middle school and high school students, we help plants the seeds of stewardship for future generations.
Experience: It has been said that people only protect what they love, and they only love what they know. How will future generations care enough to save the environment that sustains us unless they get to know it intimately? The first step in any successful outdoor education program is experiential learning, which is why we will focus on getting youth from the small towns and communities located near the Arizona National Scenic Trail.
Students are led in small groups to various forests, canyons, mountains, and exciting realms of the Arizona Trail, all within close proximity to home. This supports the place-based educational model (youth are more inclined to learn about what is immediately nearby) and helps connect youth, families and communities with the natural resources that exist "in their own backyard."
Education: After youth have experienced the Arizona National Scenic Trail through exploration and enjoyment, educational components are integrated into the outings. These are presented through a variety of on-the-trail lessons based in ecology, botany, biology, geology, and other earth sciences. Most of the educational material is presented in an experiential style, with activities, materials and instruction provided for participants of all learning abilities.
Our professional outdoor educators work with teachers and administrators to support present and upcoming curriculum, helping to reinforce what students are already learning – but in an exciting context.
Service Learning: After youth have successfully completed the first two components of the program, the third step gives them an opportunity to play an active role in maintaining, developing, and protecting the Arizona Trail through service projects. From basic trail maintenance and construction to removal of invasive species, youth learn how they can leave a positive impact on their environment.
Working alongside professionals from the Tonto National Forest, Bureau of Land Management and the Arizona Trail Association, youth participate in a series of hands-on projects that leave them with a sense of ownership of the trail and their public lands; and learning firsthand what it means to be a "steward." Service learning has been proven to be among the most effective ways to teach responsibility, encourage self-esteem, and create civic-minded individuals.
After a year of experience, education, and service learning, youth feel that the Arizona National Scenic Trail is their trail.
On average, the Arizona Trail Association's Seeds of Stewardship program engages over 2,500 youth per year. Our program is growing all the time, thanks to the commitment of visionary teachers and the generosity of our supporters.