Introducing local underserved youth to conservation and the outdoors
Kulshan Creek Neighborhood Kids Program is a year-round outreach initiative that engages youth from one of the Skagit Valley's most diverse neighborhoods in a variety of outdoor activities including all-day field trips and after-school programs.
In 2008, over 100 youngsters learned about bears, marine biology, migratory birds and the natural history of the Skagit Valley through visits to local public lands with a variety of educators. The program is the product of a unique grassroots partnership between North Cascades Institute, the National Forest Service, Mt. Vernon Police Department, Skagit Youth and Family Services and the National Park Service.
The program targets underserved, urban youth in the Kulshan Creek Neighborhood in Mount Vernon, Washington, ages 8-14. This is a community of 2,400 low-income residents that is 65 percent Latino with 40 percent under age 18. Most of these youth have never visited a national forest or park. Many are considered at risk to engage in gang-related activity and youth crime.
Kulshan Creek Neighborhood Kids Program goals include fostering a connection with nature and increasing an understanding of their place in the North Cascades and the surrounding region while developing stewardship ethics through meaningful environmental education experiences; providing role models for staying in school and exposure to careers in natural resources and environmental education; and facilitating opportunities to gain life skills, build self-esteem and discover the connection between natural resources, public lands and the urban environment.