Wilderness Wanderers Project Connects At-Risk Youth to Outdoors

Chippewa Watershed Conservancy (CWC) is pleased to announce a new educational partnership with local alternative schools. Dubbed the Wilderness Wanderers Project, the partnership teaches children important environmental education lessons, engages them in ecological stewardship projects and introduces them to careers in conservation. The partnership is currently being piloted with Odyssey Middle/High School, an alternative school in the Shepherd Public School system.

“We’re delighted to be able to work with our region’s alternative schools to connect underserved youth to the natural world. Many students at these institutions have not found success in the traditional classroom for varying reasons. We think we have a formula to show them they are valued, capable of succeeding, and how nature can play an integral role in their lives as they mature into young adults,” said Jon Breithaupt, CWC Executive Director. CWC staff have been delivering weekly educational programs covering an array of educational topics such as Native American uses of natural resources, ecology and the wildlife habitat. Students get hands on experience building trail infrastructure and eradicating invasive species under the direction of CWC leadership. At the end of the first and third trimester, the partnership culminates with an ecological stewardship project on one of CWC’s 22 nature preserves.

“Our goal is to serve underserved kids, develop an environmental education program and get students interested in land stewardship and conservation,” said Alexis Wixson, CWC Development and Outreach Coordinator. Wixson spearheads the environmental education component of the program and Breithaupt leads land stewardship projects in the partnership.             

CWC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect natural habitat and open space in the counties of the Chippewa River Watershed. It owns 22 public nature preserves which total more than 600 acres. CWC protects private lands under conservation easement – a tool used to restrict land development in order to protect conservation values such as water quality, outdoor recreation and forest health. The nonprofit group connects adults and children to the outdoors through as variety of environmental education programs. Visit www.cwc-mi.org for more information.