STEVENSON, Wash. – The Forest Youth Success program (FYS) in Skamania County, http://www.forestyouthsuccess.org, has been recognized nationally for its outstanding impact on youth, the environment and the local economy. The National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NAE4-HA) selected the program to receive a Specialty Team Award in Excellence for Natural Resource and Environmental Education.
Since 2002, teens in the county have spent the summer caring for local forests, developing valuable life skills and exploring potential careers. The value of their work is estimated at more than $900,000 for the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
The program is a unique partnership between Skamania County, the Stevenson-Carson School District, Washington State University Extension 4-H Youth Development and the U.S. Forest Service.
“The youth in this community come from an economically depressed area and have very few work opportunities,” said Scott VanderWey, WSU Extension 4-H adventure education director. “Through hands-on experience and adult mentoring they learn valuable life and work skills so they can graduate and possibly move on to careers in forestry or natural resource education.”
Students are taught the fundamentals of forest ecology and forest health management through work with adult crew leaders. Eight crews work five days a week on a wide variety of projects including establishing and restoring trails, maintaining campsites and removing invasive plants.
The WSU team being honored for their work includes Todd Murray, director, WSU Extension Skamania County; Sally Mansur, program manager, WSU Extension 4-H Skamania County; and VanderWey, director, WSU Extension 4-H adventure education. They will be recognized during the NAE4-HA awards banquet Sept. 19 at a conference in Pittsburgh.