Chiricahua National Monument

The entrance to Chiricahua National Monument

WILLCOX — Three national park units in southern Arizona — Coronado National Memorial, Chiricahua National Monument, and Fort Bowie National Historic Site — want to know how young people experience public lands.

Participants are being sought for the 2019 Southern Arizona Youth Outdoor Summit.

A youth summit is a chance for parks and young neighbors to share experiences, ideas and problem-solving. Participants will examine real-world issues at stake in public lands in southeast Arizona.

A select cohort of high school students will be recruited from across Cochise County. The cohort will come together for five days of camping, exploring and volunteer service.

Each site offers the group a question of the day. For example, as students glove up to help preserve the ruins at Fort Bowie National Historic Site, they will explore: “What are the differences between preserving and restoring historic sites, and how do these actions affect our understanding of the past?” Having examined 21st-century issues and challenges of national parks in their neighboring communities, participants will engage in a facilitated dialogue with park officials to recommend steps to take for the next 100 years of the National Park Service.

The calendar begins with a welcome night for youths and their families Wednesday, Oct. 2. The five-day/four-night session for participants begins Tuesday, Oct. 15. Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch in Elgin will host the graduation ceremony Saturday, Oct. 19, when families will reunite, reminisce and celebrate the students’ accomplishments while giving parks needed insight into the next generation of public land stewards.

The youth summit is 100-percent free and open to any current high school student in Cochise County. All travel, gear and meals will be provided. Graduates of the summit will receive an interagency annual pass, providing free entrance to all national parks and federal lands for a full year, as well as 30 hours of community or volunteer service credit. Plus, each will have gained a network of peers and land management professionals to help advance their academic and career pursuits.

Applications are due Sept. 13, 2019. For more information, applications and dates, call Kim Wentland at Coronado National Memorial at 520-366-5515, ext. 2321. To learn about the three parks go to www.nps.gov/coro, www.nps.gov/chir, and www.nps.gov/fobo.

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