To submit a project for consideration, please fill out and submit the Partner Request Form.
NRCA's Conservation Ambassador Program has successfully partnered with over 75 CT conservation organizations and municipalities to mentor high school students on conservation projects, benefiting the student, their community, and the organization. NRCA conservation projects have resulted in a variety of positive outcomes, ranging from informational videos and field guides to construction of green infrastructure (e.g. rain gardens) to gathering baseline data necessary to guide management of CT forests and freshwater.NRCA engages high school students in natural resource science in a meaningful way for the student that is valuable to our communities and environment through two intricately linked parts: a field experience and a community project. Each year, ~24 students participate in a week-long field experience at UConn where they learn from UConn faculty and other environmental professionals about a variety of environmental topics. Afterwards, the students apply their skills during a ten-month service project addressing local environmental issues in their community under the guidance of a community partner. Upon completion of the project, each student presents their work at a poster session of the UConn Connecticut Conference on Natural Resources.
Typically, partners are local conservation leaders or community decision-makers representing municipal conservation-related commissions (e.g. planning and zoning, conservation and wetlands), land trusts or other conservation-related organizations.
The primary role of the community partner is to facilitate the student’s project through guidance on different aspects of the project or through access to resources that the student may not be able to obtain on their own (e.g. access to public or private land, previously collected data or equipment). Generally, community partners assist with the development of the project idea, provide some guidance on methods or approaches used for the project, and review the NRCA conference poster to ensure the content is accurate. Nevertheless, the exact role will vary based on the community partner’s expertise, the amount of time they can commit to the project and the difficulty of the project. The program coordinator will also serve as a co-mentor to the student, assisting the community partner wherever and whenever needed.
Becoming a community partner does not mean investing a significant amount of time and energy into a project. It does mean facilitating a student's access to resources that they are not able to obtain on their own. The level of involvement of the community partner is also dependent on the difficulty of the project and ability of the student, as students may be able to work independently with simple tasks but may need more guidance with tasks that require experience and practice to ensure accuracy. At a minimum, the partner should expect to meet twice with the student: one time to develop a project and timeline and one time in the field to go over the data collection protocol. In addition to in-person meetings, the community partner should be in email contact with the student on a regular basis to provide guidance when issues arise with the project
Given that community projects are tailored to individual student interests and abilities as well as community partner needs, each project will require different amounts of commitment by the student and community partner, and there is no exact answer to the questions above. The program coordinator would be happy to discuss how a community project may be tailored to your expertise, time commitments, and community needs. Please contact us at (860) 486-4917 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.