OPRA Connection

Youth Outdoors volunteers assist program staff with the delivery of outdoor programs and special events. Based on their skill in and passion for outdoor adventure and working with youth, they may take a more active leadership role in the planning and facilitation of educational activities and club programs.

Volunteers can expand their outdoor skills and comfort level by attending outdoor skill trainings, assisting regularly on outings and interacting with program staff.

Aiming for the Future

Other partnerships between park districts, recreation departments and Ohio 4-H do not need the same level of commitment and intensive programming as offered by Youth Outdoors and Adventure Central.

Time-limited and activity-specific programs are very effective in creating the basis upon which future successes can grow.

A quick survey of 4-H Extension Educators in Ohio provided an additional six examples of partnerships with local parks. Ranging in length from two hours to eight weeks, day camps with an environmental theme are held at Dillion State Park, Tuttle and Thompson Parks in Franklin County, Lorain County MetroParks and Butler County Metro Parks and Recreation.

Lorain County 4-H has also assisted with Halloween walk decorations and adopt-a-trail litter pick-ups. The Morrow County Environmental Education Committee has provided Earth Day programs, free environmental movie days, educational backpacks for library checkout and teacher workshops.

Five counties in southeastern Ohio hold their 4-H resident camping programs at Tar Hollow State Park for six weeks annually. Organized by 30 paid staff and 225 volunteers, the activities provided by these partnerships reach more than 2,100 children and youth annually.

These partnerships are but a few of the many ways resources and expertise can be pooled to support children and youth in their exploration of nature. We encourage all organizations to take the time to discuss with others what common goals can become the basis for collaboration.

To learn more about Youth Outdoors, please call Greg Yost at (216) 206-1010 or email gmy@clevelandmetroparks.com. For more information about Adventure Central, contact Graham Cochran at (937) 268-1037 or email gcochran@adventurecentral.org.

Since 1983, Greg Yost — 4-H Extension Educator, Youth Outdoors Assistant Professor, The Ohio State University — has been developing positive opportunities for youth involvement, including work with Peace Corps, VISTA alcohol and other drug prevention programs, Free Clinic youth crisis shelter management, and various volunteer roles. He has developed and implemented programs in peer conflict mediation, youth service, teen mentoring, and group camping. His areas of specialization are partnership development and teen leadership.

John Rode, manager of Youth Outdoors, Cleveland Metroparks, has over 20 years of outdoor leadership experience. His areas of expertise include backpacking, canoeing, fishing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. He developed and facilitated a therapeutic outdoor recreation program for eight years at a residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed adolescents. John developed the original program design for Youth Outdoors in 1999.

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