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Nurturing the Next Generation of Stewards

Nurturing the Next Generation of Stewards

By Tom Andrews, ADK President

The Adirondack Mountain Club has a long history of connecting people with the natural world, beginning with the creation of the venerable Northville-Placid Trail almost a hundred years ago. Over the years, fostering this engagement has taken many different form, from guidebooks at home to skill-based learning at Heart Lake to hiker information centers at trailheads to legislative advocacy in Albany. But more important than “how” the interaction takes place is the critical component of “who” it takes place with. For, regardless of the approach, our goal is that the knowledge and passion that is conveyed is a strategic investment in the next generation of environmental stewards.

As visitor use has increased over the last decade, ADK has increasingly gone beyond the Blue Line to deliver outdoor education and conservation efforts to an ever-expanding range of people. From partnering with libraries in the Hudson Valley to after-school nonprofits in urban areas in Albany and Schenectady, to app-based resources that reach people before they leave for their adventure, ADK is investing in strategies to make sure that we are reaching as many people from as many places as possible. 

As our reach expands, ADK is placing a targeted emphasis on young people. Suffice it to say, children do not engage with the outdoors with the same spirit and joyfulness of prior generations. Rather than bemoaning the “why” of this phenomenon, ADK is instead focusing its efforts on providing children of all backgrounds with the requisite understanding and comfort to connect with our surrounding natural world. This will undoubtedly release the curiosity to explore beyond, thus ensuring that future generations desire to engage with and protect public lands for years to come.

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