WOW introduces local kids to conservation

Wild Outdoor Week (WOW) connects underserved youth with open space, STEM education, outdoor recreation and conservation professionals. Participants are primarily from the refugee community and do not pay to participate. In 2018, WOW engaged 31 teens over the course of two programs.

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WOW focuses on providing access to natural landscapes for youth who have not had the chance to explore the foothills and ponderosa forests close to home. Wild Outdoor Week also seeks to use these experiences to get participants thinking about what to do after high school by exposing them to field conservation careers with the Forest Service, BLM, City of Boise, and nonprofits.

In 2018, WOW participants cleared 2 miles of trails, surveyed Cartwright Ridge for the rare Aase’s Onion, completed Brown’s Transects to assess local forests for wildfire danger, improved bird habitat at Hyatt Hidden Lakes, practiced working on a fire line with the Lowman Hand Crew and planted 100 native shrubs in Harrison Hollow.

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90% of participants indicated that they would pursue field conservation-focused employment opportunities with Idaho Conservation Corps (ICC) based on their WOW experiences. One-third of participants are already seeking employment with ICC this summer.

“I didn’t know you could be a firefighter in the woods,” said Sunny Wa, when asked about what he wanted to do when he finished high school.

WOW is not just all work and no play - the program harnesses a strong “fun factor” to keep participants engaged and excited about each day. Past activities have included completing water quality surveys in the S. Fork Payette River, looking for macroinvertebrates in Dry Creek and exploring Mores Mountain and Lucky Peak Dam.  

“I wish I could go back and do it all over again” said Edo Se, a WOW participant.

WOW would not be possible without generous support from many partners and sponsors, including a grant from the US Forest Service and key contributions from Idaho Conservation Corps, City of Boise, Golden Eagle Audubon Society, College of Western Idaho and many, many more.