Youth Conservation Leadership Institute


What is Youth Conservation Leadership Institute and how does it work?

Youth Conservation Leadership Institute (YCLI) is a recognition program for students in 9th- 12th grade that focuses on volunteer service and environmental stewardship.  YCLI began as an expansion of Youth Conservation Camp in an effort to keep students engaged in the environmental topics introduced at camp. YCLI offers high school students interested in environmental conservation and stewardship an opportunity to build leadership skills and connect with local mentors involved with environmental issues. 

Students in 9th-12th grade may submit applications to the VASWCD in August and Sept., with applications due Oct. 2nd, 2020. YCLI is open to homeschool, private and public school students.  Those accepted into the program will be notified of acceptance by October 16th, 2020.  Program participants are required to complete a minimum of 20 hours of community service with a conservation focus.  The hours may be done as part of a single project or a series of projects but all projects must be approved by the VASWCD.  Participants will need to acquire a program sponsor such as a local Soil & Water Conservation District or other similar conservation related organization.   The YCLI sponsor will assist the participant with finding a service project that fits their interest and the needs of the community.  The sponsor will also serve as a mentor for the participant to report to and receive guidance along the way.

There will be conference call in meeting at the beginning of the program to allow all participants a chance to meet and brainstorm for their projects.

The program will conclude with an awards and recognition ceremony to be held in Spring of 2021.  The recognition program agenda will include time for participants to speak about their work and hear from key speakers in the conservation field.

YCLI is a unique opportunity for 9th-12th graders  to receive experience and engage in networking opportunities to prepare them for future education and career paths.


Who is Eligible to Apply?

 Students in 9th-12th grade  with a strong interest in natural resources conservation and related fields are encouraged to apply.  YCLI is open to homeschool, private and public school students. Click here to download the 2020-2021 YCLI application   Applications are due by Oct. 2th, 2020.  Please contact if you or your student has interest and would like to discuss. Applications can be emailed as a pdf to or mailed to the VASWCD office- VASWCD 7308 Hanover Green Drive, Suite 100  Mechanicsville, VA 23111


What past participants have said about YCLI:

“My favorite part was teaching others and sharing my message.”- 2019-2020 YCLI Participant

“Being able to help my community while having support.”-2019-2020 YCLI Participant

“My favorite part was feeling like I was helping my community.”- 2019-2020 YCLI Participant

“Being able to present about my project to my peers from across the state and compare similarities and differences.”-2017-2018 YCLI Participant

“I liked being able to come up with my own project about something that was important to me, as well as the sense of accomplishment at the end.”-2017-2018 YCLI Participant 

“My favorite part of the program was implementing the project I helped plan and organize. I loved being able to see my ideas become a reality and I loved seeing how my project beneficially impacted students and adults in my community.”- 2016-2017 YCLI Participant

“Getting to make a change in the community for the better.”-2017-2018 YCLI Participant

“This is one of the only programs in our area that allows students a one-on-one experience with people working in conservation.”-  2016-2017 YCLI Participant

“My favorite part of the program was meeting a mentor from the SWCD. This gave me insight into the filed of conservation and a way to stay involved. ” – 2016-2017 YCLI Participant

Slide show of past YCLI Projects 


About YCLI Alumni: (More alumni profiles in development)                                                                           

Seth Hatfield Prince William SWCD

Seth Hatfield
Prince William SWCD                             

The Youth Conservation Leadership Program started with support  from the Virginia Environmental Endowment.