NRC Youth Conservation Council holds first meeting

Two Upper Michigan members of the Natural Resources Commission Youth Conservation Council were among the group of 18 for the first meeting.

When asked to describe what Michigan’s outdoors means to them, members of the Natural Resources Commission Youth Conservation Council were not at a loss. Words like “peaceful,” “essential,” “relaxing” and “entertaining” were just some of the terms these young people cited during the council’s first meeting in mid-June at the Kettunen 4H Conference Center in Tustin.

This first meeting – one of several face-to-face and Web-based meetings the council will participate in this year – was, according to Youth Conservation Council advisor Ray Rustem, all about getting to know one another and beginning the process of developing recommendations and programs to encourage more youth to get involved in hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation.

“Since this was the first meeting of this group, team-building was an important aspect,” said Rustem. “There were plenty of activities that allowed the kids to interact with one another, learn some new skills and become familiar with their fellow council members.”

Throughout the rest of the weekend, council members spent time learning about the Department of Natural Resources, the Natural Resources Commission and the challenging trend of declining participation – nationally and here in Michigan – in outdoor recreation activities. Delving into that topic, council members identified some starting areas on which to focus their work:

* Offering more youth-oriented Web applications and social media;
* Initiating youth competitions; and
* Increasing access to outdoor activities.

“Now that they’ve begun to lay the groundwork, the council members will spend the next several months working on developing their ideas into feasible, youth-centered programs and activities that can be implemented through the Department of Natural Resources,” said Rustem.

Several members of the Natural Resources Commission were on hand for the council’s kickoff meeting.

“I had the opportunity to converse with a number of the attendees and I was very impressed with their knowledge and love of the outdoors,” said Commissioner John Matonich. “I know they will provide us with some great input to help introduce more youth to the natural resource jewels we have here in Michigan.”

The 18 members of the NRC Youth Conservation Council range in age from 14 to 18 and hail from all parts of the state. They include:

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)