To submit a project for consideration, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Natural Resources Conservation Academy Conservation Ambassador Program (CAP) engages teens in a weeklong intensive field experience at UConn, and a 10-month conservation project. The field experience immerses teens in natural resources science and arms them with skills used by professionals to address current environmental issues. Students then design individual conservation projects in their own community under the guidance of a local community partner and NRCA faculty. The program culminates when students present their work at UConn's Connecticut Conference on Natural Resources.
Since 2012, CAP has partnered with over 90 Connecticut organizations and municipalities to mentor high school students on conservation projects. CAP conservation projects benefit the student, their community, and the community partner organization. Nearly 170 CAP community projects have been completed throughout Connecticut.
Typically, community partners are local conservation leaders, land use decision makers, conservation commissioners, land trusts, nature centers, non-profits, or other conservation-related organizations.
Community partners receive Minor Protection training and a background check through UConn.
The primary role of the community partner is to facilitate the student’s project through guidance and through access to resources that the student may not be able to obtain on their own, such as access to public or private land, previously collected data or equipment, etc. 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 student’s CCNR conference poster to ensure the content is accurate. 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 CAP coordinator will also serve as a co-mentor to the student, assisting the community partner as needed.
Becoming a community partner does not mean investing a significant amount of time and energy into a project. It does mean providing guidance, some expertise and 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 and parent/guardian, 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 levels 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 student and community needs. Please contact the CAP program coordinator at (860) 486-5239 or email email@example.com.