In 2011, 22 San Francisco high school teens came together with a common purpose. We are known as the Inspiring Young Emerging Leaders (I-YEL), and we strive to make a difference in our community and leave a healthy, lasting impact on youth. To get to know our parks firsthand, we regularly visited the Golden Gate National Parks—whether by restoring trails at Fort Funston or discovering Alcatraz’s infamous prison history. Yet if I-YEL interns spend time in the parks each week, why do most teens fail to do the same? Why do some have access to parks when others do not? Why are young people becoming so disconnected from the outdoors?
The I-YEL team decided to address these questions by creating Backyard Bound, a youth summit held in the Presidio of San Francisco on March 19—20, 2011. We invited 98 Bay Area teens to camp out, enjoy their local national park and discuss how to tackle these issues. We hope that our conversation will ignite a movement that will spread exponentially among youth everywhere.
Inspiring Young Emerging Leaders (I-YEL) is a program of the Crissy Field Center, which is a partnership of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, the National Park Service, and the Presidio Trust.