Author: Katherine A. Kramer, Contract Manager, Friends of the Front Range Wildlife Refuges, Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge (CO)

Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge was designated an Urban Flagship Refuge in 2021. With the designation came an increased responsibility to reach out to community partners, remove historic barriers to access, and make all visitors feel welcome.

Focusing on our close-by neighbors, the refuge staff and volunteers looked for creative ways to engage the public. In the spring of 2022, a Generation Wild Youth Council was developed by Lillian Wangler, Coordinator, and two high school students from adjacent neighborhoods. The ten students will serve through the 2022-23 school year to provide a unique and vital link with the neighbors helping to make the refuge more welcoming. 

The Youth Council volunteered at the annual Refuge Day event in October, which brought in a more diverse audience to the refuge than ever before. Greeting guests dressed as a black-footed ferret and making the most of their dual language skills, the Youth Council were the perfect advocates for a more open and welcoming refuge.

With Niall Goard as the new Council Coordinator, the students are engaged in becoming young stewards of the environment, while fostering a new relationship with their communities.