Youth Summits


Announcement: We've moved!

Access information about Youth Summits at the National Park Service's Historic Preservation website,
where new content will be uploaded about Youth Summits as they are held throughout the United States every year.
The resources posted here are available at NPS Youth Summits' new home.


An Introduction to Youth Summits and Why YOU Should Do It!

Youth Summits provide exciting, on-site, interactive learning experiences for students and professionals. These experiences both encourage students to participate in historic preservation, conservation, and heritage tourism issues and also empower them to share their ideas with leaders in these fields. Youth Summits help students develop the interest and skills to become stewards of community history and historic places and also to grow into citizens who will help shape policy at the local, state, and national levels. Professional organizations, community leaders, educators, students, and others contribute to make Youth Summits memorable and motivational experiences for all involved.

This website offers a step-by-step How-To Guide for people and institutions interested in organizing their own Youth Summits, resources for planning summits, sample agendas, and other information.

Top TEN Reasons to Organize a Youth Summit:
Why YOU Should Do It!

10: Raises Awareness and Sustainability for Historic Places: Taking students and their teachers around the state or community broadens both awareness of and interest in historic places. Connecting historic places to students can help enlist the students and their teachers in efforts to help save these places. Undertaking service projects instills a stewardship ethic by forging a personal, and hopefully lasting, commitment to protecting historic places.

9: Generates Creative Ideas for Change: Young people like to make a difference and, if empowered, can be very spontaneous and creative. Youth Summit students have generated more ideas in a day than many three-day professional strategic planning retreats!

8: Gets Results Locally: Involving students helps partners achieve local preservation goals. Let’s face it, kids are a draw; having dozens of kids come to your project or historic site helps the local partners by increasing their outreach to and impact on the community.

7. Creates Good Preservation Advocates: This is a critical piece! Students and teachers have broad appeal to leaders. Elected officials and policy makers like photos with students. They often are more eager to hear ideas and suggestions for policy changes from this important demographic. And, through participating in Youth Summits, these young people tend to become stronger preservation advocates even after the Summits.

6. Develops Career Interest in Historic Preservation: This is about demographics. Students are younger than most people involved in preservation, especially preservation professionals. The field needs more younger people to become interested in careers in history and historic preservation.

5. Makes Preservationists More Tech Savvy: Young people tend to be better than most adults at using and developing new technology. The next generation does not remember a time before computers and electronic communication were everyday realities. Because they grow up with social media and networking, they think in terms of new technology and exchange information in ways never previously imagined. Their ideas can change and inprove interpretation, tourism, promotion and outreach.

4. Improves Marketing Potential for Historic Places. Teenagers have been raised in consumer culture and they are not only good consumers now, but will improve their consuming ability over time. Students and teachers are good networkers, so if you can motivate students to like a place and think it’s cool, then they will tell their friends and family. And they'll do so in a broad variety of media, which can advance historic preservation and heritage tourism efforts.

3. Motivates Staff and Volunteers: Students are enthusiastic and both their enthusiasm and energy are infectious. When students are given tasks, goals, and required outcomes, they respond to being taken seriously. They bring a passionate creativity to preservation and local partners, generating a larger flow of ideas.

2. Promotes History of All Cultures: Youth Summits help make the link between history education and historic preservation. First hand immersion in learning through places--which are primary sources of evidence--can provide an unfiltered, story-based opportunity to better understand many layers of cultural history. It is motivating for both teachers and students to have an “out of the classroom” and “not teaching to the test” experience. Teachers can excite their students about history through the investigation of actual three-dimensional historic places.

1. It's Really Fun! This is a major motivator to undertake Youth Summits.  The Summits are fun! Giving preservation case studies a youth focus allows even serious issues and dilemmas to be addressed in a way that generates interest from both participants and program partners. Educators can then use these experiences to transform future learning in the classroom.


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