volunteers walking on railroad tracks
Purple Loosestrife cleanup pros.
photo by Doug Jensen, MN Seagrant
If you are an energetic Middle or High school teacher or group leader interested in working with youth to build a healthy environment, call for more information: Nate Meyer or Becky Meyer  
University of Minnesota Extension Service
(218) 726-6464 or (888) 241-0726

Looking for a few good Leaders!

The Environmental Youth Leadership project was made possible in-part through funding from Minnesota's Lake Superior Coastal Program. Over the course of two years, educators from the University of Minnesota Extension Service worked in collaboration with staff from the Northern Pines Girl Scout Council and Duluth ISD 709 to engage high school students in model service-learning projects. Students in these groups learned the foundations of good leadership through discussion, reflection, team and mission building. They selected and completed environmental restoration projects within the St. Louis River estuary in northern Minnesota. In programs ranging a few weeks to three months, groups successfully tackled the following projects:

  • Miles of beach cleanup on Minnesota Point
  • Removal of litter from the St. Louis River shoreline
  • Planting of 300 saplings to control St. Louis River shoreline erosion
  • Construction of 10 herbivory exclosures to protect cedar saplings on Grassy Point
  • Insect control of exotic purple loosestrife in riverine wetlands
  • Removal of shoreline exotic buckthorn

In hopes of extending the Environmental Youth Leadership program, lessons planned and insights gained from the model process have been compiled in a useful curriculum guide. The first part of the guide defines and details key components of the service-learning process. Narrative lesson plans focused on team/mission building and action planning comprise part two. When combined with existing studies or additional curricula, these provide teachers, youth leaders and families an effective means of cultivating environmental service. Best of luck!

The service-learning curriculum "Building Environmental Youth Leadership: A High-School Service-learning curriculum" can be downloaded below. The complete curriculum is a fairly large document (808 kb); links to smaller individual lessons and guidelines are also provided. The files will open in a new window.

This curriculum is copyrighted by the Regents of the University of Minnesota. In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, this material is available in alternative formats upon request.

Please contact the University of Minnesota Extension Service Distribution Center at 800-876-8636. Request item number 08104.

[PDF files updated: July, 2006]

Building Environmental Youth Leadership (808 kb pdf)
Complete Curriculum and planning process guide for developing an environmental youth leadership team.

  1. Project Planning & Processes (207 kb pdf)
    Background information and process to guide development of service-learning programs.
  2. Journaling (82 kb pdf)
    Team members create journals in which they may record insights and lessons learned through the service-learning experience.
  3. Similar and Different (45 kb pdf)
    An ice-breaker where participants explore similarities and differences with peers.
  4. Name Toss (39 kb pdf)
    A team-building initiative in which participants cooperate to memorize cohorts’ names.
  5. Common Waters (46 kb pdf)
    Team members explore common knowledge, experiences and feelings about water.
  6. A Watershed Puzzle (39 kb pdf)
    Participants work in small groups to define water-related terms.
  7. Crossing Polluted Waters (43 kb pdf)
    A team-building initiative in which participants cooperate to carry the group over a “polluted” river.
  8. Shrinking Watershed(40 kb pdf)
    A team-building initiative which challenges the team to balance on an ever-shrinking environment.
  9. A Tangled Predicament (40 kb pdf)
    A team-building initiative in which students collaborate to untangle a knotted rope.
  10. Orienteering(48 kb pdf)
    Team members explore and experience orienteering, and apply lessons learned to better guide their service-projects.
  11. Ropes Course Trip (43 kb pdf)
    Guidelines for teams planning ropes course trips.
  12. Observation & Adventure Trip (55 kb pdf)
    Guidelines for planning an outdoor adventure focused on team-building, project identification, and expert advice.
  13. What is Youth Leadership? (39 kb pdf)
    Participants define and explore basic tenants of leadership, applying these to management of their service project.
  14. Mission Shield (91 kb pdf)
    Members explore personal interpretations of the team mission, connections and expectations for the project.
  15. Designing Team Mission (56 kb pdf)
    Participants define qualities of solid vision and mission statements, and apply these to develop a team mission.
  16. Behavior Code(39 kb pdf)
    Team members work develop lessons learned during team-building activities into a code of behavior to guide group expectations and interactions.
  17. Watershed Geography (43 kb pdf)
    Participants explore the watershed concept through mapping local landscapes.
  18. Remedial Action (82 kb pdf)
    Participants explore stresses and threats to the St. Louis River estuary through reading portions of the St. Louis River Citizens Action Committee’s Remedial Action Plan.
  19. Expert Advice (43 kb pdf)
    The team defines needed information, questions, and invites an expert speaker for presentation.
  20. Refining the Details (42 kb pdf)
    Small groups seek project-relevant information in the library, internet, etc.
  21. Duluth Streams (57 kb pdf)
    Team members explore the Duluth Streams website through an informational scavenger hunt.
  22. Testing the Water (54 kb pdf)
    Participants test water quality parameters at proposed project sites.
  23. Tasking Out the Project (76 kb pdf)
    The team creates a plan of action for completing their project.
  24. Youth Volunteer Job Description (58 kb pdf)
    A tool to help youth leaders define roles and responsibilities for youth interested in participating on a leadership team.
  25. Potential Projects and Partners (38 kb pdf)
    A list of possible projects and partners for groups interested in Northern Minnesota environmental service projects.