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Teens excel after YO service

YO participants led volunteers in building birdhouses as part of their spring service day.

YO participants led volunteers in building birdhouses as part of their spring service day.

Youth Outdoors graduates say they are higher academic achievers, have taken a science course, regularly volunteer and plan to pursue higher education because of their Conservation Corps service. The findings, from a recent study by a University of Minnesota researcher, showed the afterschool program’s positive, long-term impacts on high school students’ future achievements. A survey was mailed to all alumni who had served in Youth Outdoors since its launch in 2008 and for whom the Corps had current email addresses. Almost 20 percent responded.

A summary of study results showed:

  • 88 percent of YO graduates agreed the program influenced their academic achievement. 
  • 45 percent indicated that prior to YO service, they had expected to complete a high school education or less.  
  • After serving, 94% plan to pursue higher education.   
  • 72 percent noted YO increased their science interest. 
  • 66 percent took at least one elective science class after their YO term.
  • 87 percent of respondents are in full-time education; 58 percent are working full- or part-time.
  • 88 percent agreed YO increased their interest in environmental issues.
  • 59 percent increased the time they spend outside.
  • 73 percent of graduates continue to volunteer ― significantly higher than the national average of 26 percent.

Youth Outdoors engages diverse teens, ages 15-18 from low-income households, in environmental science education and service-learning projects during 11-week fall and spring school semesters and an eight-week summer session. Participants earn a stipend while increasing their interest and aptitude in science and learning work and career readiness skills.