The bright future of Conservation in Idaho

The next generation is well on its way to protecting the things that make Idaho great.

It’s always an honor to visit Washington, D.C. and visit the Idaho Congressional delegation on behalf of the conservation community. It’s even better to share that opportunity with three young Idahoans who are working to be leaders in the next generation of conservationists.

And judging by a recent visit to our nation’s capital, the future looks quite bright.

The most important thing I was able to take away from this trip was more inspiration to keep doing the hard work we are doing.– Andres Morales Lopez

In June, Conservation Voters for Idaho made a trip to Capitol Hill. Program Director Rialin Flores and Community Engagement Associate Avery Roberts were accompanied by three young conservationists who learned, for the first time, about the process of engaging with our Congressional Delegation.

Together, the five of them had face to face meetings with Sen. Jim Risch and the staff of Sen. Mike Crapo, Rep. Mike Simpson and Rep. Raul Labrador. And judging by some of the feedback from the young leaders, it won’t be the last time Idaho’s Congressional Delegation hears from these aspiring conservationists.

Nora Harren, a recent Borah High School graduate who plans to study environmental and public policy at Western Washington University in the fall, said one of her biggest takeaways was to leave the dry stats, facts and figures at home — talking to lawmakers is about describing the human experience. “It’s telling stories that sticks with politicians and their staffers,” she said.

I know personally my life has been defined by hiking, skiing, and spending time outdoors with friends. — Mojan Farid

Mojan Farid had a similar experience with telling stories about personal experiences and values. And Mojan has plenty of personal experiences to discuss. She, like all three of the young leaders, has on-the-ground knowledge of the importance of public lands and a clean environment. All three live in a state where we are blessed with world-class public lands.

For these three Idahoans, conservation isn’t an abstract conceptual ideal of lands far, far away; it’s part of the Idaho lifestyle — a distinct, invigorating and enlightening way of life. “I know that Idahoans have the unique situation where they all have amazing experiences in the beautiful outdoors,” Mojan said.

It’s those unique and cherished experiences that has motivated Mojan to volunteer and now work for CVI as a field fellow “to help provide equal access to Idaho’s outdoors for everyone.

Young people should get involved in conservation work because there is room for everyone. — Nora Harren

Not everything on the trip went without dissent. Andres reported that there were some disagreements during discussions with the delegation. Yet he said he used those occasions as learning experiences. Andres was originally from Mexico City, but he was raised in Hailey since age 8. Now a junior at Boise State University, he plans to eventually attend law school.

He expressed something all three young leaders left Washington, D.C. with: inspiration gained by meeting other young leaders who are in the conservation movement. “Sometimes, it is easy to be disillusioned by all the things going on in Washington, but it was much more powerful to see people from all around the U.S. who share the same ideals and are fighting for the same cause,” Andres said.

Mojan agreed, “It was great to meet other youth from different states to learn about what was important to them and why conversation is, and should be, a nationwide movement.”

Nora found, “Meeting and getting to know other young people who are passionate about conservation,” the highlight of her trip.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. — Margaret Mead

It’s hard to imagine Washington, D.C. has seen the last of Mojan, Nora and Andres. After all, they have a lot on the line. Their futures and the eventual futures of their children and grandchildren are woven into the public policy decisions that are being made today.

And for those future generations, there may be nothing more important than passing the torch to the next generation of conservationist. During the three’s visit to Capitol Hill the themes of “learning,” “networking,” and “inspiration” emerged. Those are powerful themes, carried by three very impressive ambassadors of the next generation.

That’s great news the future of conservation in Idaho.