CCL’s initial program (Certificate Program) is a year-long program open to current 9th and 10th grade students. Special consideration will be given to current 11th graders. CCL is application-based and accepts 12 – 16 students each spring.
The program has several components:
- A three-week residential summer trip to northern Wisconsin (June 13 - June 30, 2022)
- Conservation-based mentored stewardship project (July – April 2023)
- Weekly summer workshops and field trips (July – August 2022)
- Monthly workshops, workdays, and field trips (September 2022 – March 2023)
The Residential Summer trip
CCL begins each June with a three-week experience in northern Wisconsin, during which participants become immersed in the natural world, gain team-building and leadership skills and make new friends. While hiking, canoeing, kayaking and rock-climbing through the beautiful forests and waterways of northern Wisconsin, students explore topics such as forestry, aquatic biology and water quality, geology and land formation, bird and animal habitats among many others.
During the three weeks, students visit several locations, staying in cabins, dorm rooms and camps. Much of the time is spent outdoors, actively participating in recreation and environmental learning.
Workshops and Field trips
After returning from northern Wisconsin, students participate locally in workshops and workdays throughout the summer and the school year. These experiences further the students’ connection with the natural world and enhance their understanding of the local environment, give them exposure to professionals and careers in the environment and help and develop student's stewardship projects.
Conservation-based Mentored Stewardship Project
During the summer trip, students work together to identify a stewardship project (aka service-learning) focusing on an environmental issue that interests the student and has a positive impact on the community. Each student is paired with an adult mentor who guides the student through the project. These projects give students the chance to have a positive impact in their hometown as they engage and collaborate with their community. While each project is developed and implemented by an individual student, other CCL students collaborate, provide feedback and ideas to support their peers.
In the following spring, students present their projects at a Certificate Ceremony, giving each a new level of confidence and a strong sense of accomplishment.
Other CCL programs
High School Stewards
Partnering with Lake Forest Open Lands, CCL offers a High School Stewardship program each summer. Students who have completed the CCL Certificate Program and are interested in further developing their understanding of the environment, work alongside LFOLA Restoration Ecology college-aged interns to learn first-hand about caring for our local eco-systems. CCL can also help students with placement in conservation-based internships with other organizations.
Eco-trips and additional experiences
Those who complete the Certificate Program also have the opportunity to participate in additional opportunities. These include eco-trips to a variety of places to expand the student’s horizons and perspective on the natural world.
Other past eco-trips have included sailing on a schooner in Lake Michigan, exploring the dynamic dunes of Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore in Michigan, learning about the salt water marshes of South Carolina and the other end of our watershed in southern Louisiana, and about state-of-the-art bird research at the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology.
For the past several years, CCL students have traveled to Yellowstone National Park to explore that unique and special ecosystem. While there, students learn about the plants, forests and animals, their habitats, the park’s thermal features and history while hiking and climbing the rugged peaks in the park. Students meet with experts and park rangers to hear about wildfire management and American wolf research programs in the park.
These experiences expand knowledge of the environment as students continue on the path to conservation leadership.