Today, only 6% of children play outside on their own. Those who do enjoy less than eight minutes a day in unrestricted outdoor activities. Yet the average teenager spends 10 hours a day staring at an electronic screen.
In urban areas, the disconnect between youth and nature is even more acute. But here in the San Francisco Bay Area, SCA—which launched the American youth conservation movement nearly 60 years ago—is spearheading a new drive to engage young people in hands-on service in the very neighborhoods they call home.
With an active focus on under-served populations, we provide students from all backgrounds with empowering opportunities to preserve city parks, explore the local ecology, and discover their own potential. Independent studies confirm that SCA members gain greater self-esteem and direction, enhanced critical-thinking and focus, and improved fitness and stamina.
Additionally, as students advance along a continuum of conservation experiences, they build the skills and insights necessary to lead effectively, practice lifelong stewardship and succeed in their careers.
Following their initial service, some SCA members return to lead the programs on which they once volunteered; others progress to become interns at Golden Gate NRA, Point Reyes National Seashore, or distant locations like the Great Smoky Mountains. And with seven in 10 SCA alumni employed or studying in the conservation field, their influence will reach across local governments, businesses and communities for many years to come.
Bay Area Special Initiatives:
Under-served teens from throughout the Bay Area enjoy what is often their first real exposure to the outdoors as they improve local parks and neighborhoods and gain vital work skills and job experience in what the US Conference of Mayors calls “one of America’s top green jobs programs for youth.” Read more about the Community Crew opportunities in the Bay Area
SCA interns at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park are preserving the largest museum collection in the National Park Service—at over six million items, the largest maritime collection on the West Coast. Interns research, identify, document, digitize and arrange items ranging from archaeological artifacts to ship plans and oral histories to extend our learning and to keep the past alive.
SF Youth Stewardship Program.
In coordination with the city’s Recreation and Park Department, SCA provides free environmental service-learning programs to students in grades 2 to 12. Each course includes one classroom presentation and five thematic field trips consisting of educational elements as well as habitat restoration work to help young people forge powerful, personal connections with nature.
“I used to not value myself as enthusiastic, helpful and influential until I got to start a journey with my SCA leaders and friends. What we have been through made each member, including myself, a true leader.”
– Marvin Nieto, 17, SCA Bay Area Crew Member