Shake Up Your Youth Engagement Efforts With These Resources

At Earth Force, it’s our job to stay on top of the latest and greatest trends around youth engagement. I asked staff to share their favorite youth engagement resource, both new and old. Check out our list below and shake it up with young people in the classroom, afterschool program, or community outreach.

Genora, Partnership Coordinator – “I love the Enviroscape. It’s a great visual tool and really helps in getting kids to understand pollution, runoff, and watersheds.”

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Earth Force youth using the enviroscape to demonstrate urban runoff issues for community stakeholders.

Jan, Director, GM GREEN – “The Ladder of Youth Engagement was created to encourage youth and adults to examine why and how young people participate throughout communities. Earth Force uses this tools to help educators, partners, and communities measure youth’s involvement and push for adults to continue to elevate leadership roles for young people.”

Donny, Director, Center for Uncommon Collaboratives – “My favorite tool for youth engagement is a kick net. A kick net is low-tech, time-honored tool of aquatic ecologists. It’s versatile and easy-to-use. As a water educator, I think of a kick net as a gateway device to introduce children to their watersheds and hyperlocal environmental health conditions. After 40-plus years of mucking around creeks, my giddiness when I dip a macroinvertebrate sample remains. Collecting critters from a stream and checking them out – up close for the first time – is, without fail, a joyful and unforgettable educational experience.”


Youth using a kick net to inventory their local waterway.

Kristen, Communications Manager – “I love this public speaking lesson plan used in the Power Up! Speak Up! public speaking competition. It helps youth understand how to use the power of their voice to clearly articulate an issue, speak with confidence, and generate feedback and support. “

Kurt, Sr. Program Manager – “The Caring for Our Watersheds student workbook supports youth in putting together a funding proposal, budget and all, for a project or passion they want to pursue.”

Connect with us on Twitter and let us know about your favorite youth engagement tools!

KIC-NET Program Flourishes In and Out of the Water

Last Fall, our Keep It Clean – Neighborhood Environmental Trios (KIC-NET) program, which aims to improve water quality by offering educational opportunities to schools located near parks with waterways, expanded to Albuquerque, NM. The Middle Rio Grande was chosen as one of three pilot watershed-based stormwater permit pilots nationwide, which made the community ripe for the KIC-NET program.

This spring, young people are leading investigations and developing action projects at Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, with support of community partners Amigos Bravos, Ciudad Soil and Water Conservation District, Native American Water Corps/AmeriCorps, and the City of Albuquerque. KIC-NET is part of a collection of river improvement projects which falls under the EPA’s Urban Waters Federal Partnership.

Highlights include:
Truman Middle School is engaging 100 students in a STEM-focused enrichment program, using KIC-NET as a method for applying scientific procedures to address water quality issues in their community.


• Twenty-five students at Lew Wallace Elementary are organizing a water festival at their school. Each of the five Albuquerque KIC-NET schools will have the opportunity to share their work through displays/booths. The whole community will be invited!

Coronado Elementary created a unique peer-to-peer partnership between their first and fifth graders. First graders are performing monthly monitoring on the Rio Grande and providing their data to the fifth graders. The fifth graders will soon analyze the data, determine a course of action, and develop a project.


• Seventy students from Montessori of the Rio Grande Charter School went to the Valle del Oro Wildlife Refuge, where they rotated through three different science lessons with scientists including bird migration, wetlands restoration, and water quality testing. This spring their plans include growing native wetlands vegetation from seeds in a portable greenhouse and going to the refuge to plant these native species.

Educators from Truman Middle School and Lew Wallace will present with Earth Force at River Rally, a national conference coming to Santa Ana Pueblo, NM, May 1 -4, 2015. Learn more about the rally here.

Catch Up with Earth Force at the Green Schools National Network conference

GSNN 2015 The Green Schools National Network conference is fast approaching. The largest gathering of green schools advocates will descend upon Virginia Beach, VA, on March 4-6, 2015.

During the conference, there will be two opportunities to engage with Earth Force:

  • Fostering Powerful Green School Networks through Collective Impact & Youth Engagement
  • Weaving Networks and Building Partnership to Support Green Teacher Professional Development

Let’s take a quick peek at what the sessions are offering:

Weaving Networks and Building Partnership to Support Green Teacher Professional Development:

Earth Force will lead a portion of this session, focusing on how network weaving helps Network no titles cropped green educators and leaders think differently about building partnerships and assessing progress in collaborative work. The network-focused approach explores and fosters connections among a group of stakeholders, and it serves to build momentum and support for green learning. Participants will learn about useful tools and resources used in network mapping/analysis, see examples of how this approach is being applied in Northern Virginia, and get a good sense of where to begin in their own networks.

Fostering Powerful Green School Networks through Collective Impact & Youth Engagement:

Collective Impact is a transformative approach in which organizations from different sectors come together to solve complex social problems. It goes beyond traditional collaboration by engaging diverse partners to create innovative solutions and gain greater representation from vital stakeholders. This session will explore two initiatives using Collective Impact including our regional school district sustainability program, GreenSchoolsConnect, and Youth Engagement Partnerships, a strategy that brings together school districts, community based organizations, corporations, communities of faith, and institutions of higher education in the Washington, DC region to form a common agenda around equipping youth to take action through inquiry-based science education.

Mark you calendar and plan to join us in Virginia Beach! Feel free to shoot us a tweet or Facebook post and let us know your coming! For more information, visit