About Youth Summits

The Mission of 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, in order to
  • motivate 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 Summits Explained

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

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 facilitate 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.

Click here to download the complete Youth Summits Guide and Planning Tools as a .pdf

Last updated: November 20, 2015

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