U.P. teens named to Youth Conservation Council

The Department of Natural Resources has announced the names of the first members of the Natural Resources Commission Youth Conservation Council, and the list includes Upper Michigan teens from Alger and Luce Counties.  Jonathan Trombley of Chatham and Sigurd Utych of Newberry are among the 18 to serve on the council.

Last year, the Department of Natural Resources put out the call to find a cross-section of young people interested in Michigan’s great outdoors and in sharing their ideas about how to get new generations invested in the future of Michigan’s natural resources. Last week, at the regular monthly meeting of the Natural Resources Commission in Saginaw, the DNR was proud to announce the first 18 people selected to serve on the Natural Resources Commission Youth Conservation Council.

Ranging in age from 14 to 18 and hailing from all parts of the state, the first members of the Natural Resources Commission Youth Conservation Council are:

Ashley Andres of Reed City (Osceola County)
Claire Erwin of Bloomfield Hills (Oakland County)
Madison Godush of Bridgman (Berrien County)
Lori Goodwin of Detroit (Wayne County)
Anna Hagler of Grand Blanc (Genesee County)
Gabrielle Herin of Trenton (Wayne County)
Jean-Claude Howd of Linden (Genesee County)
Austin Jones of Mayville (Tuscola County)
Ben Littlefield of Burr Oak (St. Joseph County)
Wolfgang Lohrer of Oak Park (Oakland County)
Sage Nash of Tecumseh (Lenawee County)
Garrett Nolan of Fowlerville (Livingston County)
John Parham of Saginaw (Saginaw County)
Peter Pelon of Fenwick (Ionia County)
Trevor Petroskey of Suttons Bay (Leelanau County)
John Rumery of Grand Rapids (Kent County)
Jonathan Trombley of Chatham (Alger County)
Sigurd Utych of Newberry (Luce County)

“It was an impressive pool of applicants that made the selection process difficult, but we finally chose 18 youths that represent a variety of backgrounds and experiences in outdoor recreation and community involvement,” said Raymond Rustem, DNR advisor to the council.

Over the years the DNR has seen a decline in the number of residents taking part in hunting, angling and other outdoor recreation opportunities.

“Kids are just not participating in outdoor activities as much as past generations have,” Rustem said. “This has implications economically in terms of reduced funding for natural resources but, even more importantly, could also erode support for important conservation actions in the future.”

The council – referred to informally as the NRC Youth Conservation Council – was created in 2012 by NRC resolution to provide a forum where a diverse group of conservation-minded youth can share ideas and opinions about the best ways to 1.) protect, promote and enhance the state’s outdoor recreation, and 2.) create new opportunities for consumptive (e.g., hunting, fishing, trapping) and non-consumptive (e.g., hiking, wildlife viewing, kayaking) uses of Michigan’s natural resources.

“The quality of the applicants was tremendous,” said John Matonich, of Davison, who serves as chair of the NRC Marketing and Outreach Subcommittee. “I look forward to meeting these young people at future meetings and hearing their perspectives on how the department can better encourage and attract young people to become involved in the outdoors, both recreationally and as a lifelong passion.”

The NRC Youth Conservation Council will hold its first meeting in June 2013, with a recommendation report expected to be submitted by the end of the year.

To learn more about the council, visit the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/dnr, choose Education and Outreach, and then find Youth Conservation Council information under Programs for Families and Individuals.