Three Yoopers selected to DNR Youth Conservation Council

LANSING, MICH. — Thirteen youth from all regions of the state were recently selected to participate as members of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission’s Youth Conservation Council. They will be joining 15 youth currently serving as members on the council, which is in its fifth year of activity. The council was established to provide input to the Department of Natural Resources on strategies to encourage youth participation in fishing, hunting, trapping, and other outdoor recreation activities.

“Once again, we had an abundance of qualified candidates from which to select,” said Ray Rustem, DNR advisor for the council. “We received applications from across the state.”

Those finally selected showed a great deal of interest in the state’s natural resources as well as a desire to encourage other young people into the outdoors. One applicant framed their interest this way, “I am so blessed to be able to go out and hike on beautiful trails and swim in pristine waters. I want my legacy to be that future teenagers can get out and enjoy themselves outdoors too.”

This year’s selection involved input from current council members who also reviewed applications. Other considerations were community involvement and strengths the applicants would bring to the council.

During their 2-year term council members will participate in meetings to learn about the DNR and Michigan’s outdoor heritage.

A continuing goal of the council is to emphasize social media as a way to reach youth. Since its establishment, the group has maintained a Facebook page ( and share personal outdoor experiences through regular blog posts ( as well as an Instagram account using #yccoutdoors. The members also will be working with other social media outlets such as Snapchat to promote their outdoor activities.

Rustem added, “This new batch of council members provides a good representation of youth from across the state of Michigan.”

The new council members and their hometowns are:

Christopher Neuvirth – Commerce Township
Audrey Naeyaert – Rapid River
Laney Whitcomb – Petoskey
Joseph Perry – DeWitt
Jonathon Baker – Chassell
Allison Hawken – Reese
Cooper Evens – Grand Ledge
Reanna Byrnes – Laingsburg
Jacob Zuckschwerdt – Owosso
Benjamin Spieles – McMillan
Elijah Lampart – Kalamazoo
Addy Battel – Cass City
Neha Middela – Bloomfield Hills

Learn more on the NRC Youth Conservation Council website. Visit, click on Education & Outreach, and find the link under Youth Programs.