TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Five park units in southern Arizona – Tumacácori National Historical Park, Saguaro National Park, Coronado National Memorial, Chiricahua National Monument, and the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail – want to know how young people experience their public lands. They are calling for participants in this year's Southern Arizona Youth Outdoor Summit (SAYOS).
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 across southern Arizona.
A select cohort of high school students will be recruited from each park's local area: Santa Cruz County (Tumacácori and Anza Trail), Pima County (Saguaro), and Cochise County (Coronado and Chiricahua).
The three cohorts come together for a week of camping, exploring, and volunteer service across southern Arizona. Each site offers the group a question.
For example, as students glove up to clean and restore a badly damaged cave, they will explore, "What level of access to sensitive resources provides a balance between protection, preservation, and enjoyment of national parks?"
Having examined 21st century issues and challenges of national parks in their neighboring communities, participants will engage in a facilitated dialogue with park and local government officials to recommend steps to take for the next 100 years.
The calendar begins with a welcome night for families on Sept. 27 and the week-long session for participants beginning Sunday, Oct.7. Saguaro National Park will host the graduation ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 14 when families will reunite, reminisce, and celebrate their 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 Santa Cruz, Pima, or 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 60 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. 1. For more information, applications, FAQs, and dates, call Kim Wentland at Coronado National Memorial at 520-366-5515 x2321, or visit the park website, at www.nps.gov/coro