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Youth Conservation Leadership Institute


Youth Conservation Leadership Institute (YCLI) is a recognition program for students that focuses on volunteer service and environmental stewardship.  YCLI began as an expansion of Youth Conservation Camp in an effort to keep students engaged in the environmental topics introduced at camp. YCLI offers high school students interested in environmental conservation and stewardship an opportunity to build leadership skills and connect with local mentors involved with environmental issues. 


Students may submit applications to the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Districts in July and August. Those accepted into the program will be notified of acceptance by September.  Program participants are required to complete a minimum of 20 hours of community service with a conservation focus.  The hours may be done as part of a single project or a series of projects, but all projects must be approved by the VASWCD.  Participants will need to acquire a program sponsor who will assist the participant in finding a service project that fits their interest and the needs of the community.  The sponsor will also serve as a mentor for the participant to report to and receive guidance along the way.


There will be a conference call meeting at the beginning of the program to allow all participants a chance to meet and brainstorm for their projects. The program will conclude with an awards and recognition ceremony to be held in March.  The recognition program agenda will include time for participants to speak about their work and hear from key speakers in the conservation field.


YCLI is a unique opportunity for high school students to receive experience and engage in networking opportunities to prepare them for future education and career paths.

Students attending Youth Conservation Camp will be given priority during the application process, though all interested students are encouraged to connect with the VASWCD and apply. Students with a strong interest in natural resources conservation and related fields are encouraged to apply. 

The Youth Conservation Leadership Program started with support from the Virginia Environmental Endowment.

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