A How-To Guide

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Preparing the Next Generation

Managing and Presenting a Youth Summit

Youth Summit participants at the Lincoln Memorial
Youth Summit participants at the Lincoln Memorial
Photo by Beth Boland


Table of Contents

The National Park Service supported the development of this guide in partnership with the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers. It was prepared by Ann Alexander Pritzlaff, Preservation and Policy Consultant and Colorado Preserve America Youth Summit Director, with input from Michelle Pearson, Colorado Youth Summit Teacher Liaison and 2011 Colorado Teacher of the Year, and Shannon Haltiwanger, Public Affairs and Communications Director, History Colorado.

This guide is intended as a “How-To” and to inspire historic preservation organizations, educational or service groups, government agencies, and related entities to organize and produce Youth Summits in their areas.

Click here to download the complete How-To Guide as a .pdf


Youth Summit Mission Statement
The Mission of the Youth Summits is:

-- to provide engaging on-site, interactive learning experiences for students and educators, which

-- engage students in hands-on study of historic preservation, conservation, and heritage tourism issues, for the purpose of

-- motivating students to become future stewards of historic communities, cultural sites, and landscapes; shape policy at the local, state, and national level; and provide lasting impact on communities for generations to come.

Youth Summit Core Values

  • Youth Summits will inspire youth, educators, and mentors to take action and preserve historic places through creative and appealing programming.
  • Youth Summits will involve students, educators, and mentors in experiences that advance knowledge of history, culture, and historic preservation.
  • Youth Summits will foster the role of youth as future leaders while providing frequent opportunities for youth to express ideas and opinions.  
  • Youth Summits will focus on problem-solving outcomes for historic preservation, heritage tourism, interpretation, and other issues.
  • Youth Summits will work with community leaders and elected officials to seek both lasting and ongoing impact of Summit experiences.
  • Youth Summits will focus on results and outcomes—with broad distribution of recommendations and findings applicable to local communities, partners, and elected officials.
  • Youth Summits will include service-learning activities that provide preservation trades training, advance 21st century work-force readiness, and inculcate a stewardship ethic.
  • Youth Summits will focus on sharing stories of diverse cultures and highlight how to best convey stories that are relevant to all ages, cultures, and demographics in the community as well as the classroom.
  • Youth Summits will advance the use of a variety of teaching tools for educators, including curriculum support and instruction in the use of technology and primary sources, and will illuminate best practices that can be integrated seamlessly into state and national standards.

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A. Youth Summit Objectives

Youth Summits work to achieve six primary objectives:

  1. Foster understanding of heritage, history, and historic places
  2. Connect youth to places associated with diverse cultures and viewpoints that are part of our collective heritage
  3. Involve students in historic preservation projects and service-learning projects that make a defined difference in the historic or cultural place
  4. Expand tools to support educators’ efforts in the classroom, while providing meaningful and relevant 21st century learning applications
  5. Bolster local preservation and heritage tourism efforts of communities and historic sites
  6. Gain youth perspectives on preservation and heritage tourism issues

B. How Does A Youth Summit Work?

Youth Summit students present their ideas and recommendations to officials and scholars at a Town Hall Meeting

Youth Summit students present their ideas and recommendations
to officials and scholars at a Town Hall Meeting

Photo by Beth Boland

A Youth Summit is a focused gathering of middle and high school students and cooperating educators and mentors, brought together at an historic place to directly address current preservation challenges. Through multi-day field study programs or smaller one day activities, Youth Summits provide interactive, outcome-driven learning experiences and service opportunities to advance youth engagement and knowledge in history, archeology, heritage tourism, conservation, and preservation.

Youth Summits can be scaled to meet the needs and capacity of the presenting partners, the available funding, targeted themes, locations, and desired outcome. For example, a robust public-private partnership with adequate funding may be able to undertake a multi-day field school with many presenters and multiple programs, venues, and experiences. A local nonprofit may be better served targeting a specific site, issue, or advocacy role in a one day format.

Summit participants learn practical applications of content and skills through collaboration on preservation, conservation, and other topics that are relevant to a community. The goal is to produce lasting impact. Overseen and facilitated by preservation and education experts, the students provide feedback and service to cooperating entities and leaders in a variety of formats intended and structured to advance preservation efforts, stimulate future and ongoing involvement of students and families, and motivate local leaders and stakeholders.

Youth Summits offer opportunities for issues-oriented programming that immerses participants in a region's or locality’s historic preservation, heritage tourism, and conservation. Summits require a service component to foster a stewardship ethic. These outcome-focused experiences can lay the foundation for a new generation of citizens who will be the future stewards of America’s history and historic places. They also provide a unique opportunity to invigorate community preservation, heritage tourism, and conservation efforts through the energy and creative ideas generated by Summit participants. Participants are selected through a competitive application process requiring a commitment to continue historic preservation activities in their own communities. This commitment is supported by ongoing Summit communications, dissemination of information, and recognition of success, which provide tangible mentoring support for participants. This ongoing support allows for the sustainability of project outcomes in a personal and meaningful way.

Through real experiences in archeology, historic preservation, and broader conservation topics, participants will be directly involved in various facets of historic preservation practice. These can include:

  • Gaining knowledge about a place’s associated cultures and history
  • Considering and evaluating how significance is shared through marketing or interpretation
  • Learning about identification, documentation, or survey tools
  • Promoting  local community heritage tourism or preservation efforts
  • Being involved  in advocacy efforts
  • Undertaking an actual preservation project through a service activity
  • Understanding the ongoing responsibilities of stewardship
  • Debating issues faced in cultural resource management
  • Evaluating successful rehabilitation or adaptive reuse projects
  • Developing understanding of future career and volunteer opportunities
  • Providing recommendations and observations based on these perspectives
Students review an exhibit at a local radio station

Students review an exhibit at a local radio station
Photo by Beth Boland

Participants connect with historic preservation by developing their own recommendations for improving stewardship practices, thus expanding their direct engagement in interpretation, heritage tourism, and advocacy. Focusing on results helps students consider stewardship responsibilities, heritage values, and the economic impact of tourism, recreation, and current uses of a historic area. This interaction is vital and provides an opportunity for meaningful conversations that can resonate with participants and help them see how to integrate what they have learned into their communities and classrooms.

Students and educators create goals to help them apply their Summit experiences to their own communities and classrooms. Included are action steps that Summit participants, educators, staff, and community leaders can support in year-round activities. Online curriculum support and idea-sharing are important components for educators involved in the effort. They form a blended learning approach that will help teachers effectively integrate content in the classroom and faciliate the continued work of students in the field. Planners tailor individual experiences to the specific preservation challenges of each Youth Summit, as well as to the needs of educators, museum specialists, and collaborative partners. These partners integrate this content in the classroom in accordance with national and state standards.

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A. Top Ten Reasons to Organize a Youth Summit: Why YOU Should Do It!

B. Who Benefits?

The Summits can provide lasting benefit to students, their educators, and the partners and communities involved.

1. Impact on Youth

Through Summits, students have the opportunity to participate in real-life advocacy, service activities, and policy-shaping experiences that both prepare them for work in the 21st century and also provide critical workforce readiness skills.

This readiness is a national focus for all students in the United States and a core component of the National Core Content Standards http://www.corestandards.org/the-standards/ adopted by more than 40 states in the nation.

Additionally, young people gain invaluable experience by being treated as “consultants” in visits to historic places; students provide ideas and recommendations on critical current issues. This experience empowers youth to learn more about history, culture, and historic preservation. Service projects at local sites train youth in specific trade-related skills. Young people gain valuable leadership, communication, and organizational skills. With these skills, students are more likely to become better citizens and advocates who will maintain an interest and understanding of history, conservation, and historic preservation throughout their lives. 

Research shows that students who participate in these types of activities have a higher chance of graduating from high school, college, or trade school, and go on to lead productive lives that have a component of stewardship in both their personal and philanthropic activities.

Finally, Summits provide students with the opportunity to stay actively involved in learning, apply what they have learned, and receive the ongoing support of local, state, and national partners.

2. Impact on Educators

Youth Summits provide inspiration for educators, service leaders, or other mentors. Those who are dedicated to teaching young people face increasing challenges in meeting the needs of diverse student populations. Coupled with ongoing financial and time challenges, educators are looking for meaningful teaching experiences and applications that help meet standards, while also engaging 21st century learners in activities that challenge them to think at higher levels and reach for excellence in their work.

The Youth Summits provide alternatives to the limitations of “teaching to the test” and can be a catalyst to help educators or mentors move students to a higher level of learning in the classroom and in the community. Summits provide teachers and educators with quality tools and strategies for implementing the study of preservation and conservation of historic places and public lands. Participants learn specific ways in which Summit content can be integrated into existing curriculum.  Summits help educators develop ways to tie this content to standards and inquiry-based learning, and then return to their own teaching environment to implement lessons and community projects. Summit leaders mentor and support educators in the integration of the content through personal contact, alumni activities, online conversations, lessons sharing, and networking. The Summit leaders also support and mentor educators in using best practices to develop programs that will encourage the use of historic places, heritage tourism, and preservation in other activities in their community as well.

The Youth Summit format aligns directly with the 21st century Skills Standards and the National Core Content Standards. Both of these programs are research-based and nationally accepted. More importantly, the programs have a strategic focus on higher level analysis and synthesis and in the application, and dissemination of skills. These critical thinking skills can help prepare students to be ready for the workforce. 

The Youth Summit links to all of these ideas by allowing students to:

  • Learn on-site from scholars and professionals in their field
  • Analyze challenges and opportunities facing historic sites, communities, and public lands
  • Synthesize data from a variety of sources and partners to reach an outcome
  • Apply what they have learned in their own communities and recommend changes that will make a difference to all the partners involved in the Summit
  • Disseminate what they have learned and share the outcomes of the Summit with their families, fellow students and colleagues, and the community at large

Professional educators clearly understand the importance of these skills, but cannot teach these in isolation. Historic preservation, conservation, and heritage tourism provide important and relevant vehicles for teaching content that is often left out of textbooks and core classes. It is critical also to provide a means for teaching civic skills and civic action to all our students so that they can participate fully in our democracy. Through the use of 21st century skills in this context, students leave the program with a clear understanding not only their rights as citizens in a democracy, but their responsibilities, as well.

3. Impact on Communities

Students listen to the founder of an important local business

Students listen to the founder of an important local business
Photo by Beth Boland

Significantly, a key goal of the Youth Summits is a lasting and sustained impact on the community. All Youth Summits feature interaction with preservation stakeholders, community leaders, and policymakers and include outreach and public events as a vital part of programming. Through site visits, meetings, and forums, Youth Summit participants bring fresh, unfiltered new ideas, as well as enthusiasm to invigorate community efforts and inspire stakeholders. Involving youth in decision-making can offer perspectives to improve marketing, advocacy and outreach, thereby creating ongoing buy-in from local stakeholders. Youth Summits provide a critical lens for participants to view communities and develop a deeper understanding of the varied tapestry of the culture and landscape that make the community special. After the Summit, participants have a tangible link to where they have visited and can share in the marketing and advocacy for the community across the state. This provides a youth voice, which supports efforts stemming from the community they have visited and touches an often forgotten marketing segment.

Past Youth Summits have made this happen in very simple and meaningful ways, including:

  • Changing family vacations to explore small unique communities that have exciting places of their own to visit  
  • Moving a scout trip to  a little-known historic location, providing service to a community that would have not received it otherwise
  • Advocating for lesser-recognized projects and towns in a large urban forum of policy-makers when the community could not attend itself
  • Creating opportunities for students to research and present about cultures across their region that are not illuminated in standard textbooks and curriculum, showing the importance of these historic places and stories to many different types of audiences
  • Working to raise funds and collaborate across the miles to build lasting and productive friendships and partnerships that are productive and can become long-term and sustained

4. Impact on Organizations

The Youth Summit can expand outreach for organizations, while also increasing the impact of the organization’s mission. For partner organizations, whether the lead partner or supporting partners, the benefits of facilitating a program with youth and teachers are many.

For all organizations, the association with a youth and educational program can satisfy mission goals, expand appeal to new audiences, and new constituencies, and afford increased opportunities for funding and sponsorship. For preservation organizations, the collaboration or affiliation with students brings in an important demographic and can significantly expand the impact when encouraging the Youth Summit participants to share results with their families, friends, and related networks. Preservation organizations, whether at the neighborhood, local, regional, or state level, often lack this expansive a network or opportunity for expansion. Preservation organizations can more broadly appeal to a larger constituency when they can discuss who actually cares or benefits from a preservation effort.

Students meet with leaders of national education organizations
Students meet with leaders of national education organizations
Photo by Beth Boland

Any organizational partner—including government agencies, nonprofit organizations or other affiliated groups-- sees intrinsic, demonstrable results from working with youth. For all organizations, there are four essential benefits:

  1. Having youth speak for a place or issue can soften opposition and increase positive reaction, as youth articulate the opinions of future stakeholders.
  2. There is widespread interest in improving educational opportunities for America’s youth and an altruistic satisfaction in acknowledging association with youth programs that can satisfy mission objectives and appeal to both funders and new collaborators.
  3. Youth trigger urgency to action with their enthusiasm and energy--basically youth can “unstick” issues or challenges with their unfiltered perspectives.
  4. Youth Summits can be fun and entertaining and enliven opportunities for organizations to expand their networks, while also invigorating staff--both volunteer and salaried--to implement programs or succeed in projects.

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C. Demographics

The field of historic preservation is largely dominated by the adult population. It is increasingly important to engage youth in the practice of historic preservation and archeology.  Most volunteer and service opportunities that are available for youth target 18-24 year olds and do not focus on middle and high school students.  As the future stewards of historic places, 13-18 year olds need opportunities to explore and better understand the physical places that shaped our history, as well as to consider work in the field of historic preservation, either professionally or as a volunteer. 

According to national surveys conducted by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, there are approximately 15 million Americans who could be defined as “local preservationists,” but who are not engaged in preservation activities. The Trust surveys also helped verify the older age demographic of current professional preservationists. Youth Summits can motivate and shape future preservationists, fostering a new generation of stewards of historic places and cultural landscapes.

See the National Trust website, www.preservationnation.org, for more information.

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D.  Decline of History and Heritage Education

Recent years have seen a significant and critical decline in the support for history and heritage education in the classroom setting. Deep cuts to educational funding on the state and national level, standardized testing, and other factors have tended to steer funding to literacy, math, and science. Additionally, with the reduction of national funding in arts, humanities, and social studies, teachers are struggling to find quality professional development. They seek ways to provide student experiences that are well thought out, tied to required standards, and meaningful and relevant to their increasingly diverse students. Teachers need to continue their learning from scholars and experts so that they can continue to integrate the study of history and historic preservation across all of the content areas.

Civic engagement, leadership, and stewardship of historic landmarks are critical to the survival of our democracy and the heritage which makes the United States a special place to live for all of its citizenry. The Youth Summits provide a tested and effective venue for these hallmarks to be applied and learned. They create a way in which students, teachers, and community members can collaboratively continue to infuse teaching about our history, geography, culture, and landscapes into a myriad of educational settings.  

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E. Experiential Learning through Field School Experience

Students perform community service by clearing a hiking trail at a national park

Students perform community service by clearing a hiking trail at a national park
Photo by Beth Boland

Learning through doing is a critical part of both understanding content and also developing workforce readiness skills for students. Bringing together partners, students, and educators to reach common goals is life-changing for many students. In a media-driven society, field schools such as Youth Summits allow students to experience culture, participate in an effort that benefits communities, and provide services to sites or communities in need. Inquiry is the key to a truly successful experience.

Summit participants in field school experiences are taught to ask questions, develop hypotheses, look for answers, and investigate historic places, issues and challenges. They also learn to celebrate the small successes in preservation and to challenge others to rise to the occasion to be actively involved in learning. In a true field school environment, students never stand on the sidelines - EVERYONE is involved. Collaboration is both modeled and learned.

These activities build friendships and minimize differences . Students learn not only the action skills, but interpersonal skills. As one urban student said after partnering with another student on several activities:

I was frightened that she would not accept me, thinking that I was from a big city and didn’t understand the challenges she faces in her community. She thought I would think she was strange because she lives in a small community. What we found out, though, was that we both have challenges and celebrations to share, and that history is important to both of our cultures. The bottom line is when you are in the dirt and dust digging your heart out, differences don’t matter. Who cares how you are dressed, or if you have an iPod? We still laugh about the same things, are disgusted by others, learn from each other, and commit to making a difference for a historic site that is important to both of us - for some of the same, and for some different, reasons. Today, she remains one of my best friends and we are searching for college scholarships together. We may be five hours apart and live in different settings, but in reality that doesn’t make a bit of difference about whom we are or who we will become. I think both of us credit this to the Youth Summit bringing us together to learn about a place that was important to both of us. If anything we will preserve this place because it brought us together and probably has done that for many others.

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F. Value of Historic Places as Teaching Tools and Imprinting a Preservation Ethic

Students visit a historic Spanish-language radio station

Students visit a historic Spanish-language radio station
Photo by Beth Boland

Historic places provide a relevant and effective way to connect students to events they are studying about in the classroom or community. Time and time again, students will tell an adult that learning from a textbook is not the same as learning from “a real place with real people.” With the current focus on the use of primary sources documents and 21st century skills, historic places enjoy a new status in the classroom. Resources from a historic place allow students to connect personally to why this place is important in history, and how the history connects to the concept and content being taught. It is important to connect content with people and stories to make students remember the information. Numerous studies show that lasting memory of content is related to the connection of a student to the subject, not the memorization of facts.

Another key concept is the ability of a student to understand change over time in the context of history; this is a skill included in both national and state standards. Historic places provide one of the best means for studying change. With the support of a historic region, landmark, or public site, students and educators have access to materials about local history that cannot be found elsewhere. Studying changes to a historic site, and the ways the site is preserved, documented, and interpreted, helps to instill a preservation ethic in students. Couple that with on-site investigations, inquiry, and active exploration of the site, and you have a winning situation. Participants remember what they see and do. Partnering this memory with a clear understanding of the importance of historic preservation both helps instill a commitment to stewardship and ethical responsibility to these historic places and also establishes a foundation for maintaining and perpetuating ongoing involvement.

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A. Identifying Partners and Assembling a Youth Summit Team

1. Identifying Partners

The first step in organizing a Youth Summit is to identify the partners who will play a vital role in presenting the event and who can maintain contact with participants. Like many efforts, Youth Summits are best presented and produced in partnership. Select partners and organizers carefully. Partners should have a commitment to cultural history and historic preservation and should demonstrate the capacity to involve youth in different activities throughout the Summit and beyond.

Youth Summits can be scaled to fit the capacity to succeed of the partners. The lead partner can range from a small local non-profit or neighborhood association staffed by volunteers to a larger professionally-staffed local, regional, state, or national non-profit; academic or educational organization; or a governmental agency.

The ideal partnership would include a lead partner that is a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit organization with a mission relating to historic preservation, education, history, tourism, or service. Other partners might consist of both government and non-government entities at the state, regional, or local levels. They could even include education, service, and tourism organizations not typically associated or engaged in preservation activities. All partners should have sustained or potential community level involvement, so that they can help disseminate outcomes generated from the Summit.

The lead partner should be able to

  • Provide year-round communication management, including a comprehensive communications strategy
  • Serve as the lead contact for Youth Summit communication
  • Manage financial and fiscal issues
  • Fundraise and process donations
  • Recruit friends and manage volunteers
  • Manage cash flow and process payments
  • Host and manage website
  • Facilitate application process
  • Provide and manage event liability coverage

Additional partners can expand scope and impact and may include:

  • State Historic Preservation Offices
  • National Park Service regional and other offices
  • National Park Service units (Parks, Monuments, Historic Sites, Battlefields, National Heritage Areas, National Historic Trails)
  • Local and state preservation agencies
  • Education leaders and school districts
  • Social studies or humanities organizations
  • Tourism organizations or associations
  • Service and conservation organizations
  • Conservation organizations
  • Other not-for-profit organizations

Sources for researching other organizational potential partners include:

2. Assembling a Summit Team

Partners can assemble a Summit Team to lead and undertake Summit activities. The Summit Team should include educators, preservationists, tourism advocates, and local community liaisons. Summit Team members should direct Youth Summit program and agenda development, operational oversight, outreach and impact, and strategic affiliations. Success in implementing strategy is dependent on identifying key staffing roles, the commitment of the leadership team to the effort, and the diligence of the lead agency and leadership team in ensuring appropriate resources of financial and managerial support.

3. How State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) Can Help

The SHPO can provide a common thread in every Youth Summit, and is a connection to valuable resources and organizations. The SHPO can provide:

  • Valuable information about National and State Register properties
  • Support in obtaining information about current preservation projects statewide
  • Associations with other organizations and state agencies
  • Links to partnerships in efforts statewide
  • Recruitment of young professionals for mentoring positions
  • Networks to preservation professionals and professional associations
  • Understanding of sites at risk and those that have been revitalized, which can promote different conversations around historic preservation issues
  • Connections to local projects and historic places that have unique challenges or have access to diverse cultural backgrounds/history

4. Youth Summit Staff

National and state leaders respond to student recommendations at a Town Hall Meeting concluding a Youth Summit

National and state leaders respond to student recommendations
at a Town Hall Meeting concluding a Youth Summit

Photo by Beth Boland

Youth Summits are labor intensive! Many nonprofit organizations with experience in organizing events can attest that organizing and producing events involves considerable time, energy, and resources. Youth Summits are an event, but for true sustained success, they require not only outreach and local input before, but also follow-up after the event!

Buy-in from local organizations is vital for long-term success. These organizations can help to target key groups of students and educators to recruit for the first year. Sustained contact with all groups is vital to the dissemination of information and the recruitment of new participants in the following years. Youth Summits require a variety of staffing roles, which can be undertaken by either volunteers, paid staff, or contracted consultants. Duties can be combined or consolidated but allocation needs to take into consideration the skill set needed for each role.
  • Youth Summit Director:
    • Serve as lead staff and contact on Youth Summit Program
    • Direct overall management and presentation of the Youth Summit, including helping to develop educational program development; overseeing logistics; and shaping program goals, outcomes, and curriculum
    • Shape policy initiatives to seek lasting outcomes
    • Identify Youth Summit facilitators and leaders
    • Oversee Youth Summit logistics, registration, and communication with participants
    • Develop agenda and finalize schedule
    • Provide oversight of participant selection, schedule, and agenda preparation; outreach to preservation and community leaders;, and coordination and distribution of goals and products
    • Provide connections to partners
    • Act as the program spokesperson to policy makers, funders, and partner organizations
    • Connect Youth Summit with national, state, and local preservation leaders and elected officials
    • Provide oversight and long term strategic planning for the Youth Summit Program
    • Ensure adequate funds available for Youth Summits
    • Undertake fundraising

  • Youth Summit Manager:
    • Act as key staff for logistics and arrangements, recruitment, and applications
    • Oversee application and registration; process applications; confirm and manage registration
    • Lead recruitment of students and teachers
    • Undertake logistical management and agenda development
    • Help the leadership team develop key questions and focus for students and educators at the Summit
    • Identify key themes and outcomes in association with the director and teacher liaisons
    • Manage on-site logistics for Youth Summit including meals, lodging, and transportation
    • Offer general support to participants in registration and logistical planning
    • Undertake fundraising
    • Assist in Summit communication
    • Share products and recommendations from the Summit with project partners and participants and national leaders

  • Youth Summit Educator:
    • Assist with recruitment of educators and students
    • Act as liaison to teachers and educators and coordinate the educational training for educators
    • Secure credit or continuing education hours and issue certificates for recertification for participating teachers
    • Identify key themes and outcomes in association with the Director and Manager
    • Assist with the development of the agenda and educational activities
    • Develop and deliver curriculum training to support ongoing and meaningful integration of summit work into classroom curriculum
    • Manage the student leaders in conjunction with the leadership team
    • Promote and support adult participants to actively stay involved in activities and participate in discussions while allowing students to take the lead
    • Provide on-site training in the  integration of primary sources into the classroom
    • Model field experience as the foundation of discussion on how resources presented in the field pertain to standards-based learning in the classroom
    • Align Summit activities with current state educational standard
    • Support student lead initiatives and student planning with the Summit
    • Support the student dissemination of Summit outcomes and recommendations through social media, technology, and print delivery
    • Maintain ongoing follow-up with educators and mentor them to provide classroom support as well as local community support if needed
  • Financial Manager or Fiscal Agent:
    • Responsible for all financial management
    • Maintain and update budget
    • Manage grants and process grant reports
    • Process Youth Summit invoices
    • Ensure liability coverage

  • Local Coordinator:
    • Provide input on local issues
    • Identify partners
    • Identify venues
    • Serve as contact in community for Youth Summit
    • Assist with logistics and special events
    • Assist with dissemination of  outcomes and recommendation
  • Youth Summit Facilitators:
    • Act as facilitator during Youth Summits
    • Lead, direct, and provide expertise for issues-oriented programming
    • Provide knowledge in historic preservation, tourism, cultural heritage, and other issues to support program
    • Mentor and inspire students in programming in day-long activities
    • Develop exercises and promote in-depth discussion and inquiry to produce useful outcomes

  • Youth Summit Leaders:
    • Responsible for breakout group management of students
    • Mentor students with preservation expertise
    • Oversee learning exercises for participants and promote the inclusion of all students in the conversations and discussions
    • Manage student activities
    • Direct students to produce recommendation

  • Communications Specialist:
    • Manage and update website
    • Manage and update social media outlets
    • Distribute recommendations

5. Volunteer and Compensated Staff

The role of volunteers is the bedrock of historic preservation and other conservation activities, and volunteers can play an important role in Youth Summit programming — especially serving as leaders during the actual Youth Summit events. Having compensated staff to undertake key roles is more likely to ensure a lasting and recurring successful program. This could include assigning or redefining the work plan of existing staff of an organization or a site for the days of the Youth Summit or contracting with consultants to undertake tasks before during and after the event.

The roles of compensated staff and other budget considerations largely impact the scale of Youth Summit efforts. Partners and the Summit Team may wish to consider whether to hold multiple Youth Summit events per year which allows amortizing expenses over multiple Summits, or to start by hosting just one per year and grow as the program expands.

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1. Set Theme

Once a Summit Team is in place, determine a particular theme based on current issues, needs, and interests of local partners. This theme should consider a current issue or topic that needs evaluation to generate the most enthusiasm and impact.

A thematic approach can help drive fundraising and location selection. Ideas to consider include:

  • Significant anniversaries or celebrations
  • New national and federal initiatives, programs or policies
  • Recently designated heritage areas
  • Proposed national parks or monument
  • State preservation plan goals
  • Controversial section 106 cases
  • New legislative bills or resolutions that have significant community impact to a historic places or region
  • Interpretative or tourism marketing changes
  • Proposed developments
  • Current adaptive reuse projects
  • Culturally diverse historic properties

2. Location Selection

Students visit a mural that helps tell the story of a community’s history

Students visit a mural that helps tell the story of a community’s history
Photo by Beth Boland

Select Youth Summit locations by considering the qualities needed to fulfill the theme of the Summit and also the availability of strong local partners. Local partners can ensure a lasting impact on the community while providing firsthand regional perspectives for Summit participants. Also consider connections the location makes for students in the educational setting and how the content of the program can align with state and national standards. A Summit is only truly successful if it reaches a broad group of partners and participants and has a lasting impact.

Questions to consider when selecting locations:

  • Does the location help fulfill identified theme and focus?
  • Would a Youth Summit held at this location fulfill content curriculum needs?
  • Are there current issues or initiatives to review?
  • Are there strong local partners?
  • Are there significant historic properties that can be visited?
  • Are there current historic preservation projects to be reviewed?
  • Are there places that can convey cultural heritage?
  • Is there a possibility of a meaningful service-learning project and for whom?
  • Is there adequate lodging for groups?
  • What will the impact be on the region or community?
  • Would local schools participate?
  • Is the timing right for a Youth Summit?
  • What size Youth Summit is suitable in this location?
  • Is transportation available for participants?

3. Calendar and Planning Timeline

The next step is developing a timeline. Event planning and fundraising take time! Factors to consider include the number of paid versus volunteer staff to undertake duties, applicable fundraising deadlines, seasonal lodging restrictions, and partner expectations.

For a multi-day summer Youth Summit, a nine-month planning schedule is possible, but securing funding from larger foundations and government entities often requires a year or more.

A sample timeline for planning:

One Year Out:

  • Identify partners
  • Assemble Summit Team
  • Determine locations
  • Identify major donors
  • Research and prepare grants
  • Select focus and theme

Nine to Twelve Months:

  • Contract with consultants
  • Develop budgets and cash flow projections
  • Plan and develop program
  • Fundraise
  • Design and prepare logo and graphics for outreach to community
  • Cultivate partners
  • Develop applications
  • Draft agenda
  • Hold on-site planning meetings
  • Develop recruitment strategy
  • Select dates
  • Determine number of participants
  • Confirm liability insurance

Six to Nine Months:

  • Make site visits to communities
  • Invite speakers
  • Identify issues
  • Set program and curriculum goals
  • Research service project options
  • Announce dates
  • Prepare promotional materials
  • Undertake recruitment; distribute applications
  • Start logistical planning: reserve lodging, check into meals
  • Continue program planning
  • Continue agenda development
  • Develop confirmation forms (liability etc.)

Three to Six Months:

  • Finalize lodging, transportation, and meals
  • Continue program planning
  • Work toward finalizing agenda
  • Confirm staff and volunteers
  • Confirm speakers
  • Confirm photographer or videographer
  • Undertake recruitment
  • Develop and distribute promotional materials
  • Apply for local re-certification credit for teachers

One to Three Months:

  • Finalize agenda with alternative rain plan
  • Finalize logistics planning (meals, lodging, transportation)
  • Continue special event coordination
  • Continue to communicate with partners
  • Hold on-site meetings
  • Continue program planning
  • Continue with ongoing speaker/program communication, coordination, and confirmation
  • Communicate with sponsors and manage grants
  • Review and accept applicants
  • Communicate and coordinate with selected applicants
  • Disseminate and collect necessary releases and liability forms
  • Solicit “giveaways”
  • Draft packet templates
  • Manage budget

One Month:

  • Receive registrations
  • Maintain communication with applicants; send information and updates
  • Provide updates to partners and presenters
  • Prepare and distribute media releases and outreach materials
  • Manage cash flow
  • Confirm and train volunteers
  • Obtain curriculum support materials
  • Develop printed materials for packets
  • Communicate with sponsors
  • Coordinate appropriate signage
  • Order needed materials for registration
  • Confirm all logistics
  • Assign lodging rooms
  • Coordinate special meals
  • Update and confirm all programming activities
  • Draft and distribute staffing roles and responsibilities

One Week:

  • Finalize and print packets
  • Finalize and print nametags
  • Provide final meal counts
  • Continue media releases and outreach

After Summit:

  • Distribute recommendations
  • Thank sponsors
  • Prepare summary reports and/or deliverables
  • Update budget
  • Send press release to educational contacts with teacher and student information
  • Send press release to local news
  • Distribute payments/stipends/salaries
  • Send follow up email to provide additional resources/mentor contact information for educators
  • Update social media and website with photos and recommendations

4. Summit Schedule

Consider two types of Youth Summits (although other options are possible): a shorter issue-focused Summit and a multi-day Field School Summit.

The issue-focused Summits can consist of one to three days with one or two overnights, and could be held during the school year. They can address a particular critical issue that is generally time-sensitive and may focus on advocacy or they may take place as part of a larger meeting or conference. With this choice students will miss school and educators will need substitutes, but this type of Summit can offer irreplaceable experiences in leadership opportunities.

Outline for shorter Youth Summit (one nights lodging):

Day 1: Convene in afternoon; evening activity; meet and set goals, prep for presentations
Day 2: Morning program and community interaction; lunch; afternoon program and community interaction; conclude in late afternoon.

Field Schools are best scheduled outside of the school year, featuring a Tuesday through Friday schedule with three nights lodging and four days of programming.

Overview Outline for Field School (three nights lodging):

Day 1: Check in mid-afternoon; afternoon icebreaker; cultural program; break into smaller groups with youth summit leaders; set goals and expectations.
Day 2: Morning site visits; issues-oriented programs; lunch with local community leaders; afternoon site visits and issues-oriented programs; dinner and activity; meet with Youth Summit leaders; blog; work on day’s recommendations and final presentations.
Day 3: Service-learning activity; lunch; afternoon site visits and issues-oriented programs; dinner; wrap up recommendations and preparation for final presentation.
Day 4: Presentation of final recommendations to leaders and elected officials at meeting or Town Hall format. Conclude at noon.

5. Number of Participants

The size of Youth Summits can vary depending on program, venue, and funding. Determining the number of students, educators, and staff is driven by six major factors:

  1. Theme and purpose
  2. Fundraising and budget
  3. Location and suitability to sites
  4. Lodging and transportation capacity
  5. Partner goals
  6. Recruitment and availability of participants
Youth Summit participants enjoy a final dinner in a beautiful natural setting

Youth Summit participants enjoy a final dinner in a beautiful natural setting
Photo by Beth Boland

Theme and Purpose: The theme and purpose influence the determination of the number of participants. For example, a mini-Summit may convene to address a specific advocacy issue or topic. For a mini-Summit, a certain dynamic can be reached with 12 to 15 students, while larger numbers would be a deterrent to the purpose of the program.  A larger Summit could convene at a large, well-staffed national park or major urban area could accommodate more than 100 participants. There are also intangible dynamics to consider: Too few participants may not encourage enough energy to generate an active brainstorming session to generate fresh and new ideas. On the other hand, too large a group might dissuade interactive participation if individuals feel they can hide in a crowd and not fully participate and take an active role in the process at hand.

Fundraising and Budget: Obviously, fundraising and budget will drive size. Generally, for a three to four multi-day Field School for budget-planning purposes the cost of Youth Summit can be $1,000 per participant. With donations and in-kind support this cost can be significantly reduced.

Location and Suitability: If the region selected can accommodate many visitors, or allow for ease of transportation between sites, more participants can be included. Clearly, with a preservation focus it would not be appropriate to overwhelm site stewards or risk impacting a site with too many visitors. Remember the wide age ranges of participants and accommodations for student needs as well. These factors change how suitable a site can be for programming.

Lodging and Transportation: Lodging and transportation can be an issue in both rural areas and in major metropolitan cities. Both could have high priced or limited lodging. Think of alternatives that are more cost effective, such as university housing. Lodging that may be a bit farther away can reduce cost, even considering the expense of bus travel.  Remember that in some areas a 55-passenger bus cannot maneuver easily, so transportation issues can be a key factor in getting to remote or small sites. As with other event planning, motor coaches sometimes are not economically practical if you cannot fill the bus.  For example, with high cost of motor coaches, it may be worth limiting participants to the number that can ride in one or two motor coaches.

Partner Goals: Consideration of partner goals is essential in all planning. A partner may expect or seek a large audience to maximize exposure and outreach, while others may prefer the smaller group for more personal contact.

Recruitment and Availability of Participants: Be sure to arrange the Youth Summits for a time when students are available for participation. Check local school calendars for conflicts and end dates of school. Many districts bordering each other may not have the same school break. A one week variance in the release of students from school can reduce participants by a third. To ensure adequate supervision, plan on recruiting enough educators, mentors, or service leaders to provide a ratio of six students to one adult.

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1. Budget Development and Considerations

In budgeting for the Youth Summits, start with the premise that participants will receive full scholarships to attend and will not pay for any expenses. Other youth program models require tuition or partial payments, but the model described for Youth Summits offers fully-subsidized experiences to accepted applicants on a “need-blind” basis. The need-blind approach does not discriminate an applicant’s ability to pay for any part of program. Also plan to provide lodging that includes bedding, to accommodate those applicants who may not own or be able to afford suitable sleeping bags. This also will help to limit the packing list for participants.

A local tourism expert briefs Youth Summit participants about crucial issues facing the area

A local tourism expert briefs Youth Summit participants about crucial
issues facing the area

Photo by Beth Boland

Youth Summits require a great deal of time and thought to prepare schedules and ensure that the curriculum and program have an impact on participants. Providing meals, lodging, transportation and educational materials adds additional costs. Generally, Youth Summit Field Schools cost in the range of $1,000 per participant. This general number also can aid in fundraising.

The first qualifier in developing budgets is determining how much of the staffing can come from in-house staff or volunteers and how much requires hiring consultants. The Colorado Youth Summit model primarily uses consultants, while other models -- such as Crow Canyon Archeological Center, Young Preservationists Association in Pittsburgh, and Journey through Hallowed Ground -- enjoy year-round staff support.

Another fundamental consideration is what services a host organization can provide and what services need to be contracted. These services may include website hosting, design, printing, photography, and other related programming costs. Some organizations have expectations or requirements for indirect costs when managing programs and projects, as well as indirect versus direct cost considerations.

Budget surprises are inevitable. Add a contingency of five to fifteen percent into the budget to ensure adequate funds. Other variations in budget preparations might result from program changes due to weather or outside factors that may require last minute decisions.

Also consider such factors as whether or not state or federal dollars make up part of the funding sources, which could trigger per diem, meal, or lodging limitations.

See attached budget worksheet.

2. Fiscal Agent and Cash Flow Management

The financial manager or fiscal agent manages the budget and oversees cash flow. The fiscal agent should be a 501(c) 3 for charitable donations and have the capacity to provide adequate cash flow support. Youth Summits are expensive and require majority outlay of cash for lodging, meals, and transportation - often with 50 percent deposit in advance, with payment in full due during the event. This can burden a small nonprofit organization that is relying on reimbursable grants or government funding. Develop cash flow projections in tandem with the budget to ensure proper planning.

3. Liability Coverage

The host organization must provide liability coverage for the Youth Summit to minimize its liability in the event of an accident or incident that impacts any participant or location visiting during the Youth Summit. Identification and evaluation of adequate coverage may require review from a legal professional to confirm that all safeguards are in place. Liability coverage may be added as a rider to an existing policy - certifying that the rider covers all locations, activities, lodging, and youth involvement - or can be separately purchased for more limited coverage. The agency or entity offering coverage can assist the developing consent forms for applicants. No participant - including staff, volunteers, students, educators, chaperones, or others - should be registered or permitted to participate in any way without a liability form signed by parent or legal guardian over the age of 18.

Often the liability coverage mandates caveats, such as use of personal vehicles, or limits activities, including use of power tools. Consider these possible limitations when developing the Youth Summit program. Special program activities -- such as service learning work on specific sites, or physical activity or admission to areas of restricted access -- may require additional individual liability forms.  In developing program activities, make inquiries regarding the need for additional forms or other requirements.

4. Fundraising

Funding for Youth Summit can appeal to a variety of government and non-government entities. For example, government agencies may offer resources from funding programs for heritage as well as other areas, including service programs, training, interpretation, or youth initiatives. Corporate, individual, and family foundation support can be direct and efficient; some may not require long lead times for applications.  Other granting possibilities may be available from organizations, agencies, or foundations that may not typically fund historic preservation, but may fund educational efforts or conservation, service, or experiential learning. Many of these may lead to new funding sources.

The basic rules of successful fundraising can be remembered with a P-A-P-A approach:

  • Plan
  • Ask!
  • Perform
  • Acknowledge
A poster thanks Youth Summit sponsors

A poster thanks Youth Summit sponsors
Photo by Beth Boland

Plan: Fundraising requires planning. Developing a budget and theme can trigger many fundraising ideas. Develop a fundraising strategy to identify sources and possible ideas and then plan how to best execute that strategy. Grants and government assistance can help – but, in all fundraising, people give to people. Consider who on the Summit Team or any outside help from board members, educators, or students may help facilitate sources and contacts for fundraising. Fundraising should also consider a balance of sources to strengthen and boost constituency. Moreover, government funding can leverage private donations and vice versa.

ASK! Most fundraising has a 4-1 to 8-1 ask versus award yield. It takes multiple requests to ensure funding success. Many donations or grants require multiple contacts and communications or reports.

Perform: Donors and funders like to give to proven performers. Success breeds success! Communicate your success to the donating entities and ensure they are aware of the positive impacts of the Summits.

Acknowledge: Remember to thank and acknowledge funders. Many require certain levels of recognition, so specifically ask, clarify, and confirm a funder’s expectations or requirements for recognition.

5. Funding Sources

In developing a plan for fundraising consider the following for ideas or funding sources:

  • Local and state preservation organizations
  • National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • State Historic Preservation Office
  • National Park Service, United States Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management
  • Other Federal agencies
  • National level special initiatives related to youth or service
  • Regional office initiatives
  • Specific parks or units of the National Park Service
  • National level special initiatives related to youth or service
  • Regional office initiatives
  • State or local parks or historic sites
  • Educational entities:
    • Those chosen by donors
    • Local education foundations
    • Local businesses that fund educational entities
    • Parent-teacher organizations
    • Senators, city councils, and mayors with an educational focus or agenda
  • Service organizations
  • Corporation for National and Community Service
  • Rotary, Kiwanis, Elks, or other community clubs
  • Corporations
  • Cash
  • In-kind
  • Foundations
  • Family foundations
  • Individuals

Sources of funding for preservation:

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1. Interactive Productive Programs

Crucial to the success of a program is the development of a supporting agenda that is engaging, issues-driven, interactive, multi-sensory, and focused on the desired outcomes. To this end, apply some common best practices for motivating students. Students need to be kept busy, but also need constructive downtime so that they can network and have valuable “kid-to-kid” peer interaction.

Youth Summit teachers and partners confer during Summit

Youth Summit teachers and partners confer during Summit
Photo by Beth Boland

The key to a successful outcome is to provide consistent and differentiated reminders of the essential issues being addressed during the Summit without coming across as overbearing. On average it takes a participant five times hearing a piece of information to remember it and apply the knowledge. Significantly, a multi-sensory approach best supports learning. Offering multiple opportunities to involve all the senses can greatly enhance the program. Students can experience cultures and regions through involvement with historic places that reflect diverse cultures. They can taste local cuisine, listen to music, watch a dance, or actually join in a dance or ritual. Seeing and touching can better imprint memory and awareness of a place and experience.

Some ideas that can help you plan an interactive program include:

  • Focus all program activities on an essential questions and desired outcomes.
  • Although discussions can be adult-led in part, they should be mainly student focused. Allow recommendations to come directly from students. Their energy will come forth and shine in this effort.
  • Limit Youth Summit presentations in lecture format to 20 minutes. The common attention span for presentations for adults is only about 40 minutes, with 20 to 30 minutes lecture being the maximum for optimum attention.
  • Students need to be active and involved. Over-plan agendas with engaging, fun activities that allow students to get to know each other, learn from each other, and work together to problem-solve.
  • Begin Summits with interactive ice-breaker activities that can break down barriers, build friendships, and set the tone.
  • Allow for opportunities for fun that can build relationships that are sustainable for working together during and after the Summit.
  • Downtime is also important. Plann time and settings for activities such as an impromptu volleyball game, porch chat session, or snacktime to allow students to get to know each other throughout the event.
  • Students can help with the program and specific tasks. For example, students can report to media throughout the event and will be more focused and attentive if they have to blog, Facebook, or Twitter about the events.
  • Create numerous opportunities for interaction, such as using sentence starters, a round robin list of things they remembered about the day, or providing worksheets for each activity that stimulate reflection and evaluation.
  • Think of jobs you would normally assign to an adult volunteer and consider which ones can be done with a student in charge. Students will need training, some guidance, and an explaination of expectations. But, let them rise to the occasion — they will do so!
  • Gear all program and supporting agenda activities towards the development of final student recommendations compiled for presentations.
  • Conclude each day with work time to summarize recommendations and share through blog and/or written assessment.
  • Ensure that final presentations and interactions with partners and stakeholders are student focused; this is critical!
  • Holding a Town Hall or public presentation is a good way to conclude and share the Summit experience. An adult can act as moderator with students and experts fielding questions. Then conclude with audience participation.
  • Include leaders, elected officials, and dignitaries in the program as much as possible to raise the profile. Students want to know their opinions are valued — and their voices are heard.

2. Curriculum and Lesson Plans

The Summit program is not just for students, but also for educators and mentors. One goal is for these adult leaders to expand the Summit experience through continuing the learning opportunities in the classroom or with a service activity. Providing curriculum and lesson plans for the participating educators or mentors can be a huge asset to the program.  If possible, provide these in advance to help outline expectations and introduce Summit themes.   

Some of the questions to ask of educators and mentors ahead of time to reach a common understanding include:

  • Are they participants as well?
  • Will they participate in all activities?
  • Will they be responsible for chaperoning during the day and/or at night?
  • Will they be willing to follow up with youth in their teaching or service mentor roles when Summit is over?
  • What type of support materials do they need in advance, during, and after the Summit?
  • Do they have requirements or expectations to fulfill for peers, colleagues, or supervisors?
  • Are they seeking certification?

Also invite local partners to provide any curriculum or other materials that they offer as part of any existing local programs. Then see if their information can complement what is offered in Summit program.

An advantage to appointing a liaison to work with educators and mentors is that this person can assess their needs and expectations, while helping them to connect the Summit outcomes and experiences to their own classrooms or service activities.

Some things that can assist educators in integrating this content into the classroom or activity from the Summit are:

  • Focus on higher level critical thinking skills through development of recommendations and public presentations.
  • Provide primary sources from the area being studied and the historic locations you visited to provide authenticity.
  • Offer educators activities that they can do in their classrooms or as service activities. If possible, have Summit personnel model some of these during the Summit with students. This provides an opportunity for the educator or mentor to participate then implement the same type of thing if possible.
  • Provide educators and mentors with a list of web resources that they can access to assist them in gaining more information for both teaching and service opportunities. Consult with your stakeholders and partners on this effort so that you can access the quality sites they have already vetted.
  • Tie program to state and national standards to give educators a heads up on how this content connects. One of the best options is to have a list of state standards that are tied to the historic place and the Summit for educators to reference.

To encourage true integration of the Summit content in the classroom or service activity, schedule time during the Summit for the educators and mentors to work together and allow them to reflect on their own learning as well as that of their students.  Integrating the results of the Summit into curriculum will be successful if educators are able to learn, reflect, design, and implement content. This takes time.

3. Advocacy

In developing programs, consider the impact on advocacy. Students, especially when together, can have a strong positive impact on elected officials. Invite elected officials from the local to federal level and encourage them to attend. Making civic awareness and political engagement a part of Youth Summit program benefits the partners involved and boosts the civic commitment of young people, while also providing an appealing venue for elected officials to learn more about preservation issues.

4. Service Learning

A goal of the Youth Summits is to inculcate a stewardship ethic for future generations. Including a service activity as an essential part of the program is likely to result in long-lasting benefits, because a service project provides a multi-sensory, hands-on memory of working to improve a site. Public lands managers and service and volunteer organizations can provide guidance. In organizing and selecting a service activity, consider the desired outcome, length of time allowed, necessary skills, equipment needed, and risk. The project needs to be enough of a challenge to motivate interest and generate learning, while allowing for completion in the time allotted.

Partnering on a project with a service organization can expand knowledge and skill-sets learned on site as well as share the benefit of working with groups dedicated to managing volunteers. Service projects may also require additional release and liability forms. For more information on service learning, visit http://www.servicelearning.org/what-service-learning or http://www.nps.gov/nr/twhp/servicelearn.htm.

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Logistics must be well planned and confirmed. Logistics include lodging, meals, and transportation.

1. Lodging

Hotel or dorm lodging is preferable over camping. Advantages include security, management, and not discriminating against those who may not be able to afford suitable camping gear. Generally, students do fine housed two to four to a room with two double beds, separated by gender. When booking lodging, try to leverage room blocks for complimentary meeting space for evening work sessions, morning briefings, and registration. Lodging, like air travel, is more economical the further out it is reserved. Group lodging requires a contract, deposit and guaranty of number of rooms by an agreed upon date. Many places charge a penalty for cancellation or major change after a certain date. Lodging establishments generally require a rooming list with names in advance of check in.

2. Meals

Students eat a lot! Be sure to provide not only breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but also snacks twice a day. For budgeting, many hotels can include complimentary breakfast or offer it for less than $10 per person. Lunches can be simple buffets or sandwiches for under $15 and dinner often can be less than $22. Typically, meals for groups require advance deposit and confirmation 72 hours in advance. Check also on government per diems if using federal, state, or local funds. Include estimates for service and gratuity if appropriate. Where available, regional or culturally-affiliated food can become part of the cultural learning experience.

Increasingly, people of all ages have eating restrictions. Commitment forms should include a reference to dietary needs and restrictions. Critical to this is the recognition of gluten-free or nut allergies. It may be difficult to accommodate some of these restrictions in rural areas, but maintaining the health of participants is critical.

3. Transportation

Motor coaches or bus transportation is desirable for traveling to and from Summit locations. Further, motor coach companies offer insurance and coverage for passengers. In addition to providing transportation during the Summit, you may decide to offer transportation for participants to get to remote Summits destinations from major metropolitan areas. For liability reasons, do not allow staff and volunteers to transport students in private vehicles. In booking motor coaches, consider the size and accessibility to reach sites selected for the program. Generally, motor coach companies require contracts to reserve buses and prepayment by check or credit card, and route confirmation and passenger counts well in advance.

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F. Recruitment and Participant Management

1. Database Management

As in any successful venture, maintaining and updating a good database is essential for communication. This is especially helpful for recruitment.

2. Recruitment and Selection

Recruitment for the Youth Summit should strive to ensure a broad variety of applicants, with a range of cultural and racial affiliations, from urban, rural and suburban schools.  The Youth Summits are not a field trip, a camp, or recreational outing. A Youth Summit is an educational event requiring active and committed participation. Make this point at every opportunity. Require students to actively participate and select students based on their demonstrated interest to do so. Encourage students, educators, mentors, and service leaders to apply as a group. Alternatively, students could apply on their own and be assigned to a mentor and chaperone.

The first step in the recruitment process is to develop and post an application form that allows you to screen applicants, but that also recognizes students' age, maturity, and experience. Application forms should encourage Summit applicants to express their dedication and interest in historic preservation, but not intimidate or deter them with onerous expectations. Within the project timeline, a review team should be able to review and select applications and then also promptly contact and stay in touch with accepted students. Online applications ease communication and uniformity of submission.

Sample recruitment notices: WA State 2012 (.pdf) and Colorado Youth Summit 2011

Sample recruitment application: Colorado Youth Summit 2011

3. Selecting Participants

  • The number of participants selected varies based on the scope of each individual Summit.  Numbers are based on the appropriate visitation capacity for historic places, lodging, and transportation considerations, and the impact on the local community.
  • Youth Summit participants visit a family-owned orchard after visiting with the owner

    Youth Summit participants visit a family-owned orchard after visiting with the owner
    Photo by Beth Boland

  • Share information about applications with past participants; post it on websites; and distribute through partner links and list serves to social studies teachers, other educators, preservation groups, and service organizations.
  • Participants complete an application, including essay questions, by a specified deadline.
  • Select Summit participants through a competitive application process based on previous contribution to, and personal interest in, historic preservation and a commitment to using their Youth Summit experience to expand preservation and heritage tourism efforts in their own communities.  New participants can demonstrate personal interest in lieu of prior experience with preservation programs.  This combination of personal interest and past participation provides an impetus for future sustainable involvement in the goals of this project.
  • Select participants using a screening panel consisting of preservation leaders, educators, and key personnel of the Summit. Give consideration to geographic and cultural demographics of student participants, and also to applicants' capability to follow-up in their respective communities. 
  • Extend full scholarships to Summit participants, including lodging, transportation, program costs, and activities costs to ensure all candidates are considered on a “need-blind” basis. 

Consider an effective ratio of returning alumnae and new participants. New participants extend your reach, while returning students offer a broadening perspective through continued experience with Summit programs.  Cultivation of a returning group of students strengthens the involvement and commitment of the Summit student network, resulting in participants who have returned to their communities and implemented projects in their local area, sharing these experiences with first time Summit students. These community projects might include the further development of museum collections, oral history projects, development of local heritage tourism projects, community re-development and revitalization projects.

4. Participant Communication

Once selected, participants need to be confirmed and reconfirmed … and reconfirmed!  During the confirmation process, be sure to communicate expectations for behavior. Students (and educators or mentors) will be expected to exhibit professional character during the Summit. Clearly define a zero tolerance for abuse of shared behavior guidelines. Provide written materials outlining behavior guidelines and other practical matters such as dress code, packing lists, and emergency contact information. Verify that participants have received and acknowledged Summit expectations.

5. Form, Forms, Forms

Require written confirmation and include several forms to be completed by all participants.

These forms should include the following:

  • Commitment to Attend with contact information
  • Consent and Release Form for participants
  • Photo Release Consent to Use Photos on Website and Publications
  • Dietary or Other Restrictions
  • Medical Form for administration of medications if needed
  • Additional consent forms for special activities

6. Registration

Registration for Youth Summit includes processing of confirmed applicants' release and consent forms, communication with participants, and actual on-site management of check-in and registration issues. At registration, participants should receive a packet to include:

  • Nametag
  • Lodging assignment
  • Emergency contacts
  • Schedule
  • Rain plan
  • Worksheets with theme and guiding questions
  • Notification of group leader
  • Giveaways
  • Sponsor acknowledgment
  • Behavior expectations

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G. Sharing the Story

1. Program Support and Management

If possible, the Youth Summit should receive year-round program support through a managed website and point of contact. Ideally, the lead partner would take responsibility for this. Such an arrangement would help ensure a year round robust communication portal for youth and Summit partners. This year round web presence supports follow up with recommendations, engages in recruitment, motivates youth to be further involved, and can aid with funding and advocacy.

The other year round program support and management need consists of database management to maintain contacts for communication, to serve as a conduit for information, to distribute and post Summit recommendations, and share future Summit information.

2. Communications Plan

It is important to develop a strategic communications plan as part of the Youth Summit planning process, as this not only enhances the mission, but also strengthens the overall brand of the Youth Summit.

There are five core audiences to target for each Summit:

  1. Local communities
  2. Archeology, preservation, tourism, and public lands experts and staff
  3. Elected officials and community leaders
  4. Students and their families
  5. Educators and mentors

The messages that are delivered during each Summit adjust to reflect the goals/mission of each Summit. However, three points are always woven in.

  1. Participants of the Youth Summit are consultants - their voices matter
  2. Youth Summits engage in 21st century learning
  3. Youth Summits help prepare students for the most important job they will ever have, the role of citizen

Carefully consider the most effective delivery methods for reaching different target audiences. Before the first Youth Summit, identify your key spokespeople: your community liaison; member of your staff; someone from your granting agency, if applicable; and at least one leader from a host partner. Gather quotes from them to use as sound bites for press releases. During the Summit, identify at least three youth who can be added to the spokesperson list.

Local Community Local paper (news article, Op Ed, Letter to the Editor, Calendar of Events), radio talk show, television talk show
  • At the announcement of community for the year
  • Week prior to Summit
Community liaison and Summit Team; possible use of media consultant for press circulations and media outreach
Preservation and other professionals Social media, local and state organizational newsletters, e-blasts
  • At the announcement of community events for the year
  • Week prior to Summit
  • Week of the Summit
  • Week after/ next monthly newsletter
Community liaison and Summit Team member. Link to state and national resources, including SHPO, non-profit partners, and government agencies
Elected Officials Letters, calls
  • Prior to the Summit to invite them to the Town Hall
  • After Summit with follow-up of recommendation list and photos

Youth Summit Team and Community liaison

Youth and their families  Letters, calls, social media
  • Announcement of date and location
  • Sharing of theme and program highlights
  • Posting of final agenda
  • Invitation to Summit Town Hall
  • During Summit daily posting
  • After Summit with follow-up of recommendation list and photos
Youth Summit Team for advance work; Youth Summit participants during Summit

3. Outreach, Media, and Public Relations

Outreach and public relations for the Summit have a variety of associated purposes, goals, and methods, which generally are more modest than those used for a business. In developing publicity materials and outreach information, and when distributing follow-up materials and reports, consider the following:

  • Identify the urgency of need, problem, or challenge; address how to evaluate or study that need
  • Communicate the reasons that the issues in the program are important and to whom
  • Demonstrate unique quality of treating students as consultants
  • Raise awareness of issues and the program in general
  • Provide information about how students stay involved year-round
  • Increase knowledge of important historic places or properties and associated cultures
  • Highlight existing applicable national, regional, state, or local efforts to advance the understanding of culture or history
  • Share the successes of participants and partners
  • Thank sponsors and donors
  • Consider how beneficial to recruitment
  • Detail how outcomes will be shared with local and state governmental representatives

4. Social Media

Social media can be a critical form of communication for both Summit participants and Summit followers. Parents and students alike will post and follow Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and blog posts. Be aware that in rural areas internet and mobile phone access can be intermittent or non-existent and plan accordingly. If possible, secure lodging that has internet access so that teams of students can blog or connect to the internet to share experiences. Build a following on your social networks leading up to the event and reminding people to follow the adventures and learning of the Summit as they unfold. This will help in the dissemination of your information throughout the Summit and then in follow-up.

5. Publicity

Publicity is critical not only before, but also after the event to promote lasting impact of the results. Consider sending email blasts and/ or hard-copy information, recommendations, and final reports to the following to maximize your follow-up impact. This also will connect you to partners more fully so that future summits can happen. Recipients can include:

  • Local government officials
  • State representatives and senators
  • School districts and educational entities
  • Media-print and online
  • Sponsors
  • Preservation organizations
  • Tourism advocates
  • Government agencies

6. Documenting and Recording the Event

Be sure to document the Youth Summit! Participants can either do this themselves or arrange to have it done professionally. Consider hiring a videographer or photographer to capture memories of the event for your sponsors, participants, and legislators. The photos and video taken at the event can illuminate the work of the participants through a slide show, PowerPoint, photo album, or movie. There are numerous free resources online which can help you create hardcover book, video, online scrapbook, or website and blog. Have participants share photos and stories throughout the event and after the event.

Many urban students picked fruit from trees for the first time

Many urban students picked fruit from trees for the first time
Photo by Beth Boland

Document the event while it is happening. Have students Tweet and post to a Summit Facebook page, provide blog and journal entries to discuss and record, and share photographs of the event from their perspective. Take their words and images and share them with each other to celebrate accomplishments and remember the challenges and their action plans for success. Get quotes from students and use one-word “lead-in” on a topic to engage them in brainstorming on that topic. Butcher paper and markers are instant friends to a Youth Summit on a rainy day or a closing talk in the evening. Students can record what represented their day, questions they still have, or an action plan they will undertake.

Online resources can assist in documenting your work and many are free. Several are meant to be used with photos and some can generate movies. Educational accounts are free on most of the ones listed below. Successful ones include: www.facebook.comwww.twitter.com, www.tumblr.com,  www.wallgreens.com, www.mixbook.com, www.prezi.comwww.snapfish.com,  www.animodo.com, , www.glogster.com. Blogging resources include: www.wordpress.com  or www.blogspot

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With some ingenuity and imagination, this guide can help foster a new generation of stewards of history, culture, and historic places. 

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 improve 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 oppportunity 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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APPENDIX A: Budget Worksheet

The worksheets below can facilitate budget planning for Youth Summit.

Program Support

(download worksheet)






Program Support

Program Costs and   Admissions  (conference  or meeting registrations; museum or site admissions; activity supplemental charges; cultural entertainment)





Venue Rental for Town Hall, Closing Event other events during Summit





Audio-Visual Rental





Speaker Honoraria





Student and Mentor Leader Awards





Educator/Mentor Honoraria





Service Learning Supplies (gloves, eye protection, safety vests)





Educational Materials (books, background materials)





Promotional Materials
(Bags, water bottles, t-shirts, other giveaways)





Office Supplies





Mailing Costs





Recruitment Costs (mailing list purchase or other)




Total Program Support





Program Management

(download worksheet)






Program Management


Summit Director





Summit Manager





Summit Educator





Summit Fiscal Agent





Summit Local Coordinator





Summit Facilitator





Summit Communications Specialist





Program Management Costs: Travel Per Diem Consultant Site Visits





Indirect Costs: office space, phone, website, internet, other




Total Program Management





Outreach and Promotion

(download worksheet)






Outreach and Promotion

Media and PR Consultant





Policy Consultant





Website; Social Media Management





Printing (nametags, packets, signs, brochures)















Graphic Design




Total Outreach and Promotion





Legal and Accounting

(download worksheet)






Legal and Accounting

Financial Management





Legal Fees (review of liability)





Liability Coverage and Insurance





Independent Accountant and Audit Fees





Grant and Fundraising Management and Reporting









Total Legal and Accounting






(download worksheet)






Summit Logistics for students, educators or mentors, staff, volunteers, guests

Summit Lodging (2-3 per room)





Summit Bus





Summit Mileage Chaperone Vehicle





Summit Meals and Snacks
(all participants and guests)




Total Logistics






(download worksheet)





Program Management




Program Support




Outreach and Promotion




Legal and Accounting








Other Indirect Costs








Contingency @ 8%




Grand Total




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APPENDIX B:  Summit Location Suggestions

Critical to the success of a Youth Summit is the ability to highlight the historic, cultural, and environmental tapestry of the city, state, and region in which the summit takes place. Consider the following when selecting locations:

  • The ability to provide on-site learning and field study activities for students
  • The cultural significance of the area and the relationship of this significance to educational standards.
  • The accessibility of housing and meal services for participants and staff
  • The accessibility of events for all participants and staff

Locations that are most successful are those that convey meaningful stories and relevance to youth participants and their lives. The impact of the Youth Summits is more powerful when students and staff make connections with content and take these connections back to their own communities. Appendix C lists topics and possible guiding questions to help forge those connections. Overall, successful locations include one or more of the following:

  • Culturally significant historic sites that represent a key figure in local, state, or national history, with a focus on how this person has made a difference in history
  • Historic sites that are at risk and need or deserve attention to foster preservation efforts and sustain the sites in the future
  • Environmentally significant sites that represent conservation efforts and key issues that have impact on the local area or region
  • A collection of sites that focus on a theme (e.g.: Latino heritage, transportation and history, western culture and high altitude ranching) 
  • Important preservation, conservation, or heritage issues that can drive a youth summit, as well as provide embedded essential questions for the students to address
  • Culturally diverse historic sites and populations

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APPENDIX C:  Sample Guiding Questions for Youth Summits

The questions below provide opportunities for discussion at a Youth Summit and prompt higher level thinking skills. This list is not inclusive, but rather offers suggestions that can provide a foundation for brainstorming essential questions that would be appropriate for the Summit you are developing. The questions are general in nature but can be specifically tailored to the summit being developed.

Develop questions with higher-order thinking, 21st century skills, and national curriculum standards -- such as the Common Core Standards -- in mind. Most importantly, the questions should be open ended and offer a chance for deep discussion by participants, whether formal, informal, or in a reflective format. Only ask "yes or no" questions if they are followed by related "how," "what," or "why" ones.

Historic Preservation

  • Has this site been preserved?  If so, how does this preservation impact the community in which the site is located?
  • Is there a long term preservation plan of the site? If so, how can this plan actively engage students and families in historic preservation of the site in the future? If not, what would take to create a long term plan?
  • How does historic preservation of heritage sites preserve the cultural heritage of this area and region? Why?
  • What are the critical issues facing the preservation of this historic site and how do these issues relate to you as a participant?
  • How can you as a participant actively participate in the preservation of this location and share what you have learned during this summit with different stakeholders involved?

Heritage Tourism

  • How do these national parks, landmarks, and events play a role in the understanding of this local area in national, state, and local history?
  • How does heritage tourism play an economic role in this community? What are the celebrations and challenges this creates for the community that you are visiting?
  • How can this community engage students and families in the understanding of the heritage of this area?
  • How has heritage tourism changed over time in this region? How has this impacted the surrounding communities?
  • What are the critical stories to be told in this region that should be shared with students and adults in your state? Why? What might be some effective ways of sharing these stories?

Conservation and the Environment

  • What are the environmental challenges that this location faces?
  • How does the environment affect tourism, the management of our public resources, and the quality of life?
  • What are the challenges that this site faces due to the environment in which it resides? How do the stakeholders involved in managing the site(s) deal with these challenges?
  • How have conservation efforts changed the landscape in this region? Has that change been for the better and/or worse?
  • What are the financial and political challenges this region faces with the environment (e.g.: energy drilling and management, historic reclamation of land)
  • What are the policies for conservation and protection of the unique characteristics of a place? How do these policies affect the livelihood of those living in the community?

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APPENDIX D:  Suggested Service Projects: Ideas Which Make Impact

Possible service projects include those suggested on the Teaching with Historic Places Service Learning Site and others listed below.

  • Help rebuild a historic trail with guidance from the federal, state, or local agency or a volunteer or service organization
  • Help on a cleanup crew to clean up and weed a historic cemetery or local historic site's landscape
  • Help remove invasive species of weeds or plants from a historic landscape
  • Help set up a social media site for your cooperating partner and organize a way to maintain a Facebook page or blog to assist it with outreach and notifications of events and projects. Create a “check-in” site for the location to help people with mobile devices show that they have been at the location
  • Assist in a survey of historic properties by doing research, documenting a site, and entering information on an inventory form
  • Interview people to identify historic places that have not yet been recognized
  • Interview people at a historic site about why they visit and why they think the place is important
  • Help professional archeologists investigate a site
  • Help organize a library; or file papers for a small office or museum that has limited assistance or volunteers
  • Offer to repair or maintain  a historic barn or corral, or clean out a barn to lessen the workload on a small historic site
  • Rebuild picnic tables or benches for a historic site
  • Volunteer for small maintenance projects that can be completed as a large or small group in a limited time (e.g.: paint the interior of an office, paint the exterior walls of a building, paint/seal/stain a fence)
  • Develop a field guide for students to use when visiting the site
  • Develop a family guide for students and families to engage them in learning about the site(s) you have visited
  • Develop a podcast or a collection of oral histories that illuminates the cultural heritage of the site
  • Help repair fencing on a site
  • Offer to restock supplies across the site for a day so that staff can work on other projects. (e.g.: place pamphlets in boxes for visitors, restock bathrooms, empty trash, etc.)
  • Put your bilingual skills to work and translate important documents for the site so that it can reach out to a more diverse audience
  • Offer to participate in a wildlife observation day, collecting data about birds or other small wildlife on the site for record keeping and evaluation by staff.
  • Construct habitat nesting stations or nesting boxes for specific species of birds on the site and mount them with the assistance and guidance of staff
  • Help complete an energy audit of the site and design a plan to lessen energy use on the site in the future; then present your plan to stakeholders for consideration

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APPENDIX E: Appendix E: Sample Youth Summit Agendas

Click here for sample agendas.

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APPENDIX F: Appendix F: Pulling It All Together: Sample Youth Summit Program Materials

Click here for sample participant information materials.

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APPENDIX G: Colorado Preserve America Youth Summit

Youth Summit partners, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Harris Sherman, and Ann Alexander Pritzlaff receive Chairman's Award from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation

Youth Summit partners, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar,
Harris Sherman, and Ann Alexander Pritzlaff receive
Chairman's Award from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation

Founded in 2007, the Colorado Preserve America Youth Summit is an award-winning program that provides Colorado middle and high school students and their educators’ interactive, goal-focused, results-oriented experiences that foster their knowledge of our nation’s diverse cultural heritage, demonstrate the complexity of balancing sustainable use with historic preservation, and cultivate life-long stewards of historic places.

The Youth Summits have been produced as a collaborative effort in partnership with History Colorado (formerly the Colorado Historical Society), Colorado Preservation, Inc., Colorado Council on Social Studies, Teaching with Primary Sources, the National Park Service, United States Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, History (formerly the History Channel), and local preservation and community partners in many regions of the state. Between 2007-2012, 15 Summits were held in southeastern Colorado, southwestern Colorado, northeast Colorado, central Colorado in the San Luis Valley, and three different programs in the Denver area. These Summits have demonstrated their value in engaging young people.

The Colorado Youth Summits provide a forum for interaction between students, educators, preservation experts, and community leaders to motivate and shape future efforts to raise appreciation and excitement about historic places, heritage tourism, archeology, and historic preservation. This energy has been transferred to the classroom and the individual communities in which these students live. Evidence of information dissemination can be seen in the educational and college prep development of past participants.  Many past Colorado Summit students have used historic preservation, archeology, and heritage tourism as focus projects for their baccalaureate programs in high school. Summits have motivated some past participants to consider college programs in museum studies, history, archeology, and historic preservation.

The Colorado Youth Summit programs focus on a theme of “SOS” for historic places: Sustainability (both economic and environmental), Opportunity (what can be improved, developed, or enhanced in historic places) and Stewardship (the continuing use and care of historic places).

Examples of Youth Summits held throughout Colorado include:

  • Summit 1: Southeastern Colorado: Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site,Eads, and Amache Japanese Internment Camp
  • Summits 2 and 3: Saving Places Conference; Downtown Denver;
  • Summits 4 and 5: Saving Places Conference; Southwestern Colorado: Cortez and Mesa Verde National Park
  • Summits 6, 7 and 8: Saving Places Conference; Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area and Dinosaur National Monument
  • Summits 9, 10, 11, and 12: Saving Places Conference; Washington D.C.; I-70 corridor: Denver to Georgetown; South Park National Heritage Area
  • Summits 13, 14 and 15: Saving Places Conference; Washington D.C.; Rocky Mountain National Park

The Colorado Preserve America Youth Summits have received national attention for the accomplishments of the experiences offered to more than 1,000 students and their educators. The Colorado Youth Summit was recognized by Gov. John Hickenlooper with the Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation and has been honored with the Chairman’s Award from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. One of the Youth Summits was instrumental in the passing of a resolution in the Colorado General Assembly to recognize and codify the Colorado Centennial Farm program into state law - the first legislation  the Youth Summit drafted and successfully managed through the legislative process.

The Colorado Youth Summits have demonstrated that students can be the best teachers. With energy, enthusiasm, and unfiltered opinions - coupled with 21st century communication skills - students of the Colorado Preserve America Youth Summits have broken barriers by expanding the relevance of historic properties to a broader demographic while molding a new generation of preservation leaders.

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APPENDIX H. Colorado Youth Summit Participant Perspectives

"The Youth Summits have positively impacted my life in many aspects. I have gained speaking skills, improved my leadership abilities, and have more confidence in what I have to say. The most important things I have learned are a love for history, as well as preservation and conservation. Through the Youth Summits, the students get the opportunity to meet and talk with people such as Secretary Salazar, National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, as well as all of Colorado’s Senators and congressmen, and many more people who support historic preservation.

"These meetings are a great way to learn how to think quickly on your feet, and give you the opportunity to speak about something you are truly passionate in. A huge component of the Youth Summits is that the people we talk to listen to the ideas and feedback we give them about their programs and projects. But what’s really special is that these people really care about what we are doing. This gave me great confidence because I saw how these important and successful people listened to me and wanted to help me with what I believe in. They took our ideas and actually put them to use. It was an eye-opening experience to see how my voice could have such an impact and how I can change the world around me by doing what I love.

"But, most importantly, the Youth Summits have thought me how to love history. The hands-on learning made it so easy to have a real connection with the places we went and the things we got the opportunity to do. History is no longer just names and dates to me; it is a story of what came before us, of how our everyday lives came to be. Through the Youth Summits I have learned to want to preserve the land and the history we have all around us.  If it were not for the Youth Summits, none of the history would have been so real, and I would have no reason to want to keep it around. Luckily however, I was able to participate in the Youth Summits and it has changed my whole outlook of life for the better."
Lindsay Meehan, 10th grade student, Lakewood High School

“The Colorado Preserve America Youth Summit has been a wonderful experience for me personally, mainly because the experiences and tools I have gained. The Youth Summit is all about making history fun and exciting, which is exactly what I and students alike want to see. Being a part of the Youth Summit from the start has benefited me in many different ways. First of all, taking part in this program has helped me gain a new and positive attitude for history. The program gives you multiple opportunities to make a difference in a historic area, as well as tools you can use in your own community. From digging tamarisk plants out of beaches along the Green River, to building fences and moving rock, all of these service projects have helped me grow as a leader.

"The Youth Summit has also given me experience in a professional environment. At the end of each Youth Summit, we hold a town hall meeting with various stakeholders and city officials, giving our insights as to how they can make the park/monument more appealing to different age groups as well as how to use technology to their advantage. These meetings have given me public speaking experience as well as leadership opportunities. The most beneficial part of the Youth Summit is giving students the opportunity to get out of the house and make a difference. As a student, there have been many times when I have given advice and ideas to city officials, and see it come to life months later. I think this is one of my favorite parts of the Youth Summit, and I think that it is important for every student across the country to have this experience."
Shea Styer, 10th grade student, Mullen High School

"The Youth Summit makes a true difference for students and our communities by … creating a partnership of caring. Youth Summit students often comment about their surprise that adults care about and implement their suggestions which are offered during and after the Summit and they express the same awe that Community Leaders are surprised that middle and high school kids care about preserving the history of their historic site.

"One of the hallmarks of the Summit is that students help to solve real world problems. As community members share all of the different points of view, they model collaborative problem solving and show kids that even sensitive issues can be solved when people talk to each other and work together to find solutions. The rich exchange of ideas, history and face to face time with each other enriches all generations involved and shows participants the promised outcomes of collaboration for a common goal. Our kids already understand the importance of avocation and preservation and communities are seeing the power that a youthful voice can have for the better of our state and communities as a whole.

"This is a one of a kind partnership where both sides come away so much better for having gone through the process. Colorado has so much history and many important stories to tell. The Youth Summit provides a way to make sure these stories and places are here for many years. BRAVO Youth Summit! This is true 21st century Learning in action!"
Laura Israelsen, social studies teacher, Adams-12

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APPENDIX I: Other Youth Preservation Programs

Many preservation organizations offer student programs, but few either run them at the statewide level or target middle and high school age groups. A good source for overall information about federally-connected youth programs (education, vocational, volunteer) is YouthGO.gov. Below are other useful sources:

Sources to review include:


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