Developing the Next Generation of Environmental Leaders
Even though Louisville, Kentucky is a river town, it is cut off from the river by physical, cultural and educational barriers. However, there is active interest in reconnecting with the river and area waterways. Through Get Outdoors Kentucky (GoKY), David Wicks is working with partners – Lincoln Foundation, Boy Scouts, Public Schools, the Louisville Science Center, the University of Louisville and Metro Louisville Government – to reestablish access to and a better understanding of the river and the value of water quality in Louisville’s economically disadvantaged youth. GoKY focuses on children with special needs, underserved groups of young people and adults who work with them in order to increase young people’s knowledge and appreciation of the natural world that can be experienced in urban environments.
David used his Toyota TogetherGreen fellowship to enable young, disadvantaged students to have an opportunity to be involved with conservation research, experiential investigations and open ended explorations. His project provided support to the Lincoln Foundation Science and Math program by securing five college students to serve as youth mentors. Additionally, David trained 18 Kentucky residents to become a part of the Urban Canoe Instructor Cadre. This enabled him to run adventure camps to provide outdoor experiences to disadvantaged youth.
By focusing on urban environmental issues, David has provided resources, mentors, and preparatory field trips to engage underserved youth in ecological exploration to become environmental leaders in our community. The program offers an interdisciplinary, inquiry-based curriculum that engages students in laboratory and field-based learning experiences, which reinforces skills that are essential in high school and college readiness.