For all the criticism millennials may receive, the underlying truth is that we will be the generation to hopefully tip the scales. The stereotype of the technology addicted, socially awkward, unconnected, and lazy group of young adults is not what I see when I look at the face of my generation. I see a group of people who are willing to put in the work and drive to change society. We have a passion, drive, and a seemingly hopeless optimism as to what the future could be. While the environmental future seems overwhelming, we are the most environmentally conscious generation thus far. This hope is fueled by the other bright young minds of young adults like myself, who as cliché as it may seem, really want to make a difference. I look around the classroom at UW and I see students who share my concerns and worries as well as my passion. Despite what the news may say, I don’t think climate change will be the end of the world. Millennials, my message is this; the rest is up to you.
When I came to work for Wild Forests and Fauna and learned about the Future Leaders project I was thrilled. Environmental education is critically important, and involving young adults in problem solving is a great way to make change. This is exactly what Future Leaders aims to do. They take young adults, go to a Summit Lodge in the Madre de Dios region of the Peruvian Amazon, and teach them about sustainable business practices, leadership, and team work. The whole idea is to take young people, who care about their threatened surrounding environment, and give them the tools to create business plans or solve business problems in a sustainable manner, to work with the land not destroy it. The focus is on leadership and connecting deeply with their beautiful land that is so threatened. This being our third Summit we are changing the format a little. Those of you who know about our past Future Leaders projects this year we are incorporating new applicants to work with past Future Leaders in a collaborative exercise. Not only will we have the retreat this year but also we are also including a panel of local business leaders and entrepreneurs to include those who may have wanted to be in the project but due to limited number of applicant spots weren’t accepted.
The 2016 Summit starts with a panel March 13th and the retreat will go from the 15th-19th. The panel is a new aspect to the program which includes collaboration between the Future Leaders, locals, business leaders, and entrepreneurs to start a conversation about sustainable business practices and problem solving. This year the 16 chosen candidates with be working on a specific Business Case that will allow them to practice the skills they will be learning during the summit, specifically specific hands on problem solving of a real life business case, while also making connections during the panel with local business leaders and entrepreneurs.
Future Leaders is the kind of project that brings people together. Even though I have never met any of the applicants and I probably never will, I feel like I know them. They share the same drive and passion I do. I can connect to their willingness to search for solutions to the enormous problems facing the Millennial generation.