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LandTrust starts new youth conservation program

The LandTrust for Central North Carolina has announced a new youth initiative aimed at sponsoring outdoors activities and conservation education.

 In a news release, the Land Trust said the program — called the Leopold Society — would be for children and teenagers in grades 6 to 12. It’s intended as a way to encourage kids to get outside with their schools and families, said LandTrust Membership and Outreach Director Michael Nye in the news release.

“Our mission is to build the next generation of conservationists,” Nye said. “As our world becomes more technology based, we must continue to get kids outdoors and back into nature. The Leopold Society will achieve this goal by providing schools, recreation departments, and families with opportunities to get outside and play an active role in conservation.”

As part of the program, participants receive a passport and a passport stamp once an activity is complete. In addition, program participants each year are required to complete a conservation-based service project.

The first Leopold Society event occurred on Jan. 17, when 22 Salisbury Academy students in seventh grade were introduced to the Kerr 2 Property — a 19.2-acre tract of land in Rowan County. In 2015, this LandTrust property was converted into an American chestnut restoration site in partnership with The American Chestnut Foundation.

This project was possible with guidance and funding from the LandTrust’s current “Conservationist of the Year,” Fred Stanback. Other financial sponsors of the Leopold Society include; the Alcoa Foundation, the Duke Energy Foundation, the Salisbury Community Foundation, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Peter Hairston.

After learning about the American chestnut in the classroom, the 7th graders from Salisbury Academy, taught by Alexandra Shadroui, chose to adopt and maintain the Kerr 2 Property as their Leopold Society service project.

“This project is a beautiful partnership that will ensure our students develop a love for nature and a true understanding of the impacts of conservation efforts, so that they can continue on as adults saving and protecting the spaces they love,” Shadroui said.

The visit to the Kerr 2 Property on Jan. 17, marked the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship between the students and the American chestnuts — the saplings receiving much-needed attention and the students gaining hands-on experience in the field while building a passion for conservation and the outdoors.

For more information or to enroll your school or participant into The LandTrust’s Leopold Society, contact Sam Parrott at sam@landtrustcnc.org or 704-647-0302.

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