Natural Leaders Network Partners with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to Create a Pipeline of Jobs for Diverse Young Leaders

Partnership Seeks to Foster a Better Understanding of the Role of the Service in Supporting the Next Generation of “Nature-Smart” Leaders

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Minneapolis, MN (PRWEB) May 28, 2014

The Natural Leaders Network, a program of the Children & Nature Network, is proud to announce continued support from founding partner U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to continue their work building a worldwide youth movement to strengthen the bond between people and nature.

Co-founded in 2008 with The North Face, and receiving additional support from the REI Foundation, the vision of the Natural Leaders Network is to empower diverse young leaders with the training and skills necessary to create lasting change in their communities to curb Nature-Deficit Disorder. Nature-Deficit disorder is the phrase coined by best-selling author Richard Louv to serve as a description of the human costs of today’s alienation from nature. “The most effective future leaders of a new nature movement will come from the generation and the communities that face the most barriers to connecting with nature,” said Louv, co-founder and chairman emeritus of the Children & Nature Network. “That doesn’t mean that the rest of us should expect them to carry the full weight of leadership. It means that every person has a human right to experience and receive the gifts of the natural world.”

Another goal of the Natural Leaders Network is to close the diversity gap in the outdoor field while challenging the status quo to become more culturally relevant. Passing down valuable skills and knowledge to the next generation is imperative to success of the movement, according to director of the Natural Leaders Network Juan Martinez, “One of the biggest challenges we’re seeing in the conservation community is the increasing age and lack of diversity of employees in conservation organizations, and outdoor enthusiasts as a whole. Support from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service highlights their leadership and commitment by helping to ensure a vibrant future of “nature-smart” leaders which will contribute to an increase in qualified candidates for future positions within the Service,” said Martinez.

The centerpiece of the Natural Leaders Network is the Natural Leaders Legacy Camp. The Legacy Camp takes place at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV. Participants, ages 18-29, are selected through a competitive application process to attend the weeklong Legacy Camp. Participants receive intensive training and ongoing support to create lasting social changes in their communities to ensure that all children (and adults) experience the benefits of a meaningful, daily connection with the natural world. These emerging leaders are supported by the Natural Leaders staff and by each other in a peer-to-peer mentoring model to accomplish specific goals within their home communities.

Since its inception in 2008, the Natural Leaders Network has continued to expand their reach. This partnership will support expansion to 60 new communities, bringing the total number of communities reached to 150.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is very excited to be partnering with the Natural Leaders Network to foster the development of the next generation of conservation leaders,” said Nate Hawley, Career Awareness Branch Chief in the Division of Education Outreach at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Conservation Training Center, "The Legacy Camp is the perfect stepping stone for a career in conservation, and we are looking forward to working with the Natural Leaders Network as they expand this program across the nation.”

About The Children and Nature Network:
Since it’s founding in 2006, the Children & Nature Network (C&NN) has been advocating for children, their families, and communities to enhance their health and well being through direct experiences in nature. C&NN’s vision is a world in which all children play, learn, and grow with nature in their everyday lives. C&NN is leading a movement to connect all children, their families, and communities to nature through innovative ideas, evidence-based resources and tools, broad-based collaboration and support of grassroots leadership. C&NN provides a wide range of research and user-friendly tools, including those to enhance positive family bonding and access to fun, friendly nature-based activities. For more information, visit http://www.childrenandnature.org.

About The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov.