Guest Blog by: Rachel Collins, Junior at DeLaSalle High School and Sierra Club North Star Chapter Diversity Council Intern
As a child, I remember going to Wolf Ridge near Lake Itasca where I kayaked with my family for three days getting away from the city’s smog and enjoying the fresh air and sounds of Spring. I even saw a moose pretty close up which was cool. I was fortunate enough to grow up being able to go camping, biking, and fishing up North, taking trips to our local skiing hills, and in general be exposed to the natural world around me. Both through family trips and class outings, by the time I was 13, I had been on almost every outdoor excursion imaginable in Minnesota. During this same time, I started to meet people that did not have those same opportunities. There was something sad about realizing not everyone got to feel the freedom that comes with being away from the tall buildings and surrounded by nature. So, when I started as the Sierra Club North Star Chapter’s Diversity Council intern and learned about the Inner City Outings program, I got excited to know there was a program that was available to inner city youth that could help them experience that same freedom I do when I go outdoors.
Inner City Outings (ICO) is a community outreach program based out of the Sierra Club North Star Chapter, that provides nature outings to the mostly low-income, inner city youth and young adults living in the Twin Cities. It provides outings to explore, enjoy, and protect the natural world. For many of these youth, it is their first time being outside the city limits, canoeing, skiing, taking hiking trips, and being educated about nature conservation.
ICO is primarily made up of volunteers, and works with several organizations to gain more members, volunteers, and other resources. The dedicated men and women work closely with these organizations to get their message of nature conservation and youth education out to the public. For me, It is so important to make sure that our youth, and the upcoming generations are educated about the issues that our natural world faces, and how they can be a part of saving our planet.
For more information on volunteering and getting involved, please visit http://ico.sierraclub.org/northstar/volunteer.html