Fishin’ Buddie coordinated a Youth Conservation Conference (YCC) that exposes underserved youth to environmental stewardship through an immersive, weeklong residential “boot camp” at Chicago State University. Guided by experts, the project engaged 25 high school students in hands-on activities in land restoration, water quality testing, wildlife monitoring, and soil science in the Calumet region. The students built on this experience with follow-up internships with Fishin’ Buddies and partnering agencies. The YCC and follow-up internships provide a professional environment for youth to learn about conservation careers and build teamwork, leadership, and project-management skills. The program forged links between environmental agencies and local youth, and contributed to ecosystem protection and restoration in the Calumet region. In these ways, the YCC connected the Fishin’ Buddies’ stewardship education mission with the broader conservation goals for the region, as outlined by the regional Chicago Wilderness Biodiversity Recovery Plan and the community-based Calumet Stewardship Initiative.
Calumet region in northeastern Illinois and northwestern Indiana