Enjoy Michigan’s outdoor heritage

The Michigan Department of Natural Resource has announced that nine new members have been selected to serve on the Natural Resources Commission Youth Conservation Council.

That there are no members from the central Upper Peninsula is disappointing.

Still, two U.P. residents were selected.

Tim Lorenson of Ironwood and Brett Masuga of Cedarville will join the original 18 members to test new ways to encourage more young people to get outdoors more often.

Among the 2015 Council Members is Jonathan Trombley of Chatham, while 2016 Council Members include Sigurd Utych of Newberry, Lorenson, and Masuga.

The nine new members were selected from nearly 40 applicants from throughout Michigan.

The criteria used to choose the Youth Conservation Council members included interest in helping youth participation in the outdoors; current community involvement; and the skills and strengths they would bring to the council.

The names of the unsuccessful applicants was not released, so we don’t know if any local young person from this area even applied.

If that is the case, we urge local young people aged 14 to 18 to strongly consider joining this program.

When so many in this age group (along with many adults) seem permanently attached to their cell phones, it’s encouraging to see such interest in an outdoors program.

“The Youth Conservation Council was conceived as a forum that would allow young people to share their perspectives about recreation in Michigan, brainstorm ideas about making outdoor experiences more accessible, and spawn new traditions for more of our youth,” said Tim Nichols, Michigan Natural Resources Commission member and chair of the newly-established NRC Youth Conservation Council subcommittee.

In the council’s first full year of meetings, one of the most important suggestions was that in order to more successfully deliver the outdoor-recreation message, the outreach needed to be peer to peer.

“The council members recognized that to get youth back outdoors hunting, fishing, kayaking or any other outdoor activity, we – not just the DNR – needed to be the promoters,” said Youth Conservation Council member Garrett Nolan of Williamston.

To accomplish this, Youth Conservation Council members have launched a blog to build awareness about Michigan’s outdoor recreation opportunities and as a platform for young people to share their tips and experiences with each other.

The blog is a virtual place for young people throughout the state to learn about what’s happening in other Michigan communities and which outdoor traditions and pursuits they themselves might want to explore.

“This blog is a way for youth to share their experiences and to encourage others in enjoying all the great things about Michigan’s outdoors,” said Nolan. “We want youth to talk to each other, share their experiences and encourage their friends and relatives to join us outside.”

You can follow the blog at michiganycc.wordpress.com.

Any young person interested in sharing thoughts on the council or about a recent outdoor recreation experience is encouraged to submit a post by email to youthconservationcouncil@gmail.com.

How about it? Let’s get outside, and enjoy Michigan’s outdoor heritage.