Inspiring Future Leaders

The first ever Northwest Youth Leadership Summit invited 120 youth, and more than 30 partner organizations, from around the PNW to come together for a day of learning. Plus, we got a surprise visit from Sally Jewell, our US Secretary of the Interior!
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
October 31, 2016

The first ever Northwest Youth Leadership Summit was held Saturday, October 22, 2016 at our Seattle Program Center. Working with more than 30 partner organizations, we brought together 120 youth from around the PNW for a day of leadership and learning, plus we enjoyed a surprise visit from Sally Jewell!

The Summit featured 18 breakout sessions, a Student Success Panel, and an Opportunity Fair. Students came from all over - as far north as Bellingham and as  far south as Astoria, OR - to learn about leadership skills, understand college applications, get tips on making resumes and job interview techniques, discuss diversity and inclusion, talk about conservation and advocacy work, and of course get outside to climb and hike. 


The day started early with students arriving at 8am to check-in, eat breakfast, and get stoked for the day. The morning was full of learning. Then, after amazing burrito bar lunch thanks to Mangia Bene Catering, the students were treated to a special guest appearance from Interior Secretary Sally Jewell!

Secretary Jewell inspired the young  leaders, talking about the importance of public lands and how she got her start working in the outdoor industry. She answered questions from the students who didn't hold back on conservation issues, like the Keystone XL Pipeline or the coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef. These students weren't shy in asking the hard questions immediately. The Secretary answered questions eloquently and sincerely, leaving the students in awe. It was a great visit and bonus for the students and organizations attending.

With the surprise visit, that meant our student emcees had to work fast with changes to the agenda - and they were brilliant. Two students, Thien Nguyen and Logan Urrutia, emceed the event like pros, keeping their peers engaged and informed, while enjoying every second!

NWYLS - logan and thien

Left to right: Logan & Thien, aka "Team Awesome"


Thien got his start in the outdoors through North Cascade Institute's Youth Leadership Adventures program and is currently a freshman at the University of Washington studying Neural Biology. Logan, a senior at Kamiak High School, is the current present of The Mountaineers Adventure Club and has experience exploring the outdoors with organizations like Washington Trails Association and North Cascades Institute.

The afternoon's Student Success Panel was moderated by the Natural Leaders Network's James King. Five students shared their stories of experience in programs with the WTA, North Cascades Institute, Student Conservation Association, Outward Bound, and NOLS. The panelists discussed how their experiences with these outdoor organizations influenced their current lives, and how it's helped shape their future goals, both professionally and personally. Listening to these students' stories even made the adults in the room feel like they want to be just like these students when they grow up.


The afternoon also featured an Opportunity Fair with more than 30 organizations offering opportunities in volunteering, stewardship, outdoor programs, educational programs, internships and jobs. Students mingled with lots of representatives from federal, for profit, and nonprofit organizations.


And finally to complete a busy and wonderful day, we had a delicious ice cream social thanks to Snoqualmie Ice Cream for students to enjoy and debrief about all of what they experienced and learned.

The Summit was free for students 14-22 years old who participated in youth stewardship and/or outdoor programs. And it was truly awesome for both students and adults. Just check out the Instagram: @nwyls and #nwyls16 to see how much fun we had!

Amazing Partnerships

This event couldn't have been possible without the hard work from the partner organizations hosting the Summit. This event showcased how partner organizations can come together and create a fantastic and engaging event for youth. It was a pleasure and something to look forward to next year.

The event was created with the mission to empower future leaders in conservation. The Mountaineers, North Cascades Institute North Cascades National Park and the Mount-Baker Snoqualmie National Forest  partnered together to make a impactful and awesome event for students in the PNW: the inaugural Northwest Youth Leadership Summit!

Also, a HUGE thanks to the volunteers and staff who worked the event from start to finish 6am to 7pm, plus the support from the sponsors not already mentioned:

See all of you at the next Northwest Youth Leadership Summit!

NWYLS group