Eco-Inspired Youth Leadership

"You never know if that one little thing you said could cause someone to take action and change the world."

- Kaylee Arnold

Background Information

In her community of Cascade, Idaho, Kaylee Arnold found that students at Cascade Jr. High School are under motivated and sometimes struggle to build a connection with their community.  She sees the main problem being several barriers to entry.  Many junior high students are searching for ways to get involved in their communities but don’t have the skills or resources to take the first steps.

“These students don’t realize how amazing the place they live is and all of the opportunities and activities that are available to them because they haven’t had the chance to be exposed to their environment.”
– Kaylee Arnold
The objective of this project was to create an opportunity for junior high students to enjoy the place in which they live, while teaching them leadership skills that can give them the ability to recognize issues in their community and take action.  This project inspired students to be passionate about their community and empowered them to help solve the complex issues our society faces.  By attending this weekend expedition, the students learned different ways they can get involved in their community, acquired skills to become effective leaders, and explored how they can create an exciting and meaningful life for themselves. Kaylee knows that people who are passionate about an issue and involved in their community can make positive differences. When people find a passion and are deeply motivated to make change happen, many rewards and learning experiences occur. They can create meaningful and satisfactory experiences for themselves and others. Communities thrive when people strive to create positive changes. The objective of this project was to instill a passion in youth to build a stronger community.

Implementation of Project

Kaylee held her Eco-Inspired Youth Leadership camping trip on a weekend in April 2014, with four local youth attending.  The first thing the students worked on was teamwork.  The group had to set up a tent together and complete a couple of team-building activities.  Through these activities, the students also learned about communication, resiliency, and resourcefulness.On the second day, the students toured the Rapid River Fish Hatchery located near Riggins, Idaho. The students learned about the lifecycle of Chinook salmon and steelhead and about how fish hatcheries rear fish.  They also learned how the employees and volunteers work together and that volunteers are vital to the hatchery. The students then did a service project, which consisted of raking the park and picnic area at the hatchery. The hatchery staff appreciated their efforts, and the students learned how fun and easy serving people can be. After lunch, the students took a two-mile hike along the beautiful Rapid River. While hiking, the students did an activity where they each chose a random color crayon and had to look for objects, animals, and plants that matched their color. This activity taught the students that it is important to pay attention to details while enjoying the moment. The students then had a class on the characteristics of a leader and making a difference. They also learned about followership and its importance. On the third day, the group enjoyed a day with each other at Gold Fork Hot Springs. After that experience, the students created a “web” of string to depict what they learned from each other to inspire each one of them to continue to make a difference.

“I was planning on taking about 16 students camping, but it turned out that four was a perfect number. The most rewarding part of my weekend was watching the kids come out of their shells, which would not have happened if more people had come along. All of the students got along well, and we all learned things from each other.”
– Kaylee Arnold

Results of Project

Kaylee had the students who went on the camping trip start their own mini “CLPs.” One student is starting a game night for his family because he doen’t feel like they spend enough time together. Another student is organizing a team of community members to help pick up trash on the road she lives on. The next student is gathering volunteers for the Payette River Games at Kelly’s Whitewater Park in Cascade this summer. The last student is working to raise money for the Cascade Climbing Team, so that they can travel places to compete and outdoor climb.

“Watching the students work on their projects and grow as leaders was more rewarding than anything I can imagine. It was amazing to see the students discover something that interested them and that they wanted to change.”
– Kaylee Arnold

What’s Next

Kaylee will continue to encourage the students who attended the trip to follow through with their projects and to not stop there. Kaylee will also continue to be an active volunteer in her community.

“I love inspiring people to make a difference because of the long term effects. You never know if that one little thing you said could cause someone to take action and change the world.”
– Kaylee Arnold