Calling All Youth

2016 Bioneers Conference

The Bioneers Youth Leadership Program is evolving! Applications are now open for youth groups and individuals to apply for a scholarship to the 2017 Bioneers conference.

At the 1999 Bioneers conference, a spontaneous round of applause rang through the hall as cell phone connection was made with Julia Butterfly Hill, as she was protesting the clear-cutting of old-growth forests from her 180-foot perch in a 1000-year-old redwood tree she called Luna. She electrified the audience as she described life in the canopy and reflected on her activism as a 23-year-old youth.

The next year after Julia descended from Luna and keynoted in person, she saw the need to expand the presence of youth and organized an impromptu session on the lawn with about 30 young people. She sowed the seeds of the Bioneers Youth Leadership Program and helped get it off the ground. We launched the program in 2000 because the values and skills that young people gain in their formative years shape the rest of their lives and society’s future. Young people are often prime movers of social change and leaders in innovation. Youth movements do change the world.

17 years later, the Bioneers Youth Leadership Program continues to be one of the most dynamic, engaging, and evolving pieces of the Bioneers kaleidoscope. The Program serves as a nexus point that combines learning, leadership development, alliance building, intergenerational collaboration and honest dialogue. It offers a space to discuss and work through the real issues facing youth in both the social and climate justice movements while seeking solutions to those issues.

The Youth Leadership Program is committed to engaging youth in peer-to-peer mentoring; holding safe and brave spaces to explore issues of identity, power, and individual and collective activism; embodying collaborative learning using art, media and performance as vehicles for activism; and sharing ideas and deliberative practices. We encourage and support youth to step up into their personal power to transform their lives through everyday actions to model and influence positive environmental and social change.

For me, seeing firsthand, the life-changing capacity that the Youth Leadership Program embodies at the Bioneers conference was awe-inspiring: from youth reaching into the depths of their experiences and speaking truth to power at the Poetry Slam about everything from violence, empowerment, trauma, and liberation, to youth engaging and working through oppressive labels and stereotypes in a workshop based in reclamation of identity and sense of being valued.

Since the Bioneers conference, I have conducted year-long outreach and facilitated social justice workshops with youth groups and schools. Meeting with youth not just geographically, but on a socio-emotional level with a restorative justice lens that allowed us to have open conversations about where they are at and what is real and present for them in their lives. And more importantly, using Bioneers as a catalyst for youth empowerment and leadership development by bringing the magic of the conference directly to them and enabling it to be tangible to their particular context.

It is now that time of year again, where we seek to bring young, bold, social change agents from all walks of life to the 2017 National Bioneers Conference: UPRISING through our Youth Scholarship! Applications are now open for youth groups and individuals to apply for a scholarship to the Bioneers conference. This includes tickets to fully access the 3-day conference program, a healthy nutritious lunch all 3 days of the conference and a dedicated program focused on youth leadership development and strength. Best of all, you have the opportunity to learn and grow community alongside other young leaders through our inclusive Youth Unity Center, the home of youth energy and power throughout the weekend.

The youth are the ancestors of an uncertain tomorrow who face the issues of a negligent yesterday and a turbulent present. We strive to give youth the space to tackle that reality through this scholarship to the life-affirming ecosystem that is Bioneers. Apply today!