Youth Develop Life Skills Through Forestry Program

Primary author: Missy Cummins
Co-author(s): Hannah Brause; Somer Meade

Primary college/unit: Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences
Campus: Skamania County Extension


With 90% of the County forested, generations of Skamania County families have developed deep connections to the land, the timber, and the conservation efforts that protect them. Over the last several decades cultural, social, and economic changes have created a disconnect between the youth in the community and the natural resources. Many teens are unaware of the role the forest plays in the region. Recent changes in the community make obtaining the job experience and real-world skills teens need challenging. Also, local agencies require assistance completing projects benefitting the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and other county assets.
To help address these needs, WSU Extension has partnered with the Stevenson-Carson School District, Mt. Adams Institute, and the U.S. Forest Service to create the Forest Youth Success program for youth development and employment.
Youth are given a survey measuring skill set and knowledge before then after participating. In the 2019 season, twelve youth participated in the program. Evaluation results indicated the following (N=12): Before FYS, 33 % (n=4) planned to use financial resources. After FYS, 83% (n=10) plan to use financial resources. Before FYS, 41% (n=5) indicated they follow directions and contribute to getting a job done. After FYS, 91% (n=11) Before FYS, 33% (n=4) understood what future job opportunities there are in natural resources. After FYS, 83% (n=10) understand what future job opportunities there are for natural resources.
Since the program’s inception in 2002, approximately 725 youth have participated in the program developing life skills and bettering the community.