Training the Conservation Stewards of Tomorrow

ACR understands that healthy and resilient natural landscapes are essential to life. Our philosophy of Conservation in Action means we approach land stewardship with a clear understanding of sound conservation practices; practices based upon impeccable research and a broad appreciation of the complexity and interconnectedness of natural systems. Conservation in Action also means that we are committed to catalyzing and inspiring in children the desire to understand, protect, and care for the land. ACR’s Juniper Program has been doing just that for more than twenty years.

Every year since 1994, ACR has recruited and provided 30 hours of field-based natural history and leadership training for a group of 30 budding natural scientists in fourth grade. Once trained, program graduates join the Juniper team to work with ACR volunteers and staff in implementing conservation science and stewardship projects and serving as co-leaders for public programs on the Preserve. The Juniper Program offers a significant head start to the next generation of conservation stewards by providing advanced naturalist training, hands-on conservation experiences, and peer mentoring opportunities for participants through grade twelve and beyond. Often, ACR staff members are asked to write recommendation letters for Junipers’ college applications and, each year, ACR awards a college scholarship to one or more graduating Junipers. As young adults, Junipers are eligible for work as ACR interns, helping with education programs and field work.

An example of the range of Juniper activities

  • Conduct weekly census of 3 newt species at Bouverie Preserve during the breeding season (February through April),
  • Study mountain lion research sites with ACR wildlife ecologist & big cat expert Dr. Quinton Martins,
  • Assist with the trapping and removal of invasive Signal Crayfish in Stuart Creek,
  • Collect & post observations for ACR’s online biodiversity catalog on iNaturalist,
  • Co-lead Guided Nature Walks and Twilight Hikes for Bouverie visitors,
  • Serve as Youth Leaders for ACR special events,
  • Assist with conservation science and stewardship projects on ACR lands, and
  • Serve as Peer Mentors for Juniper Training.

Training and mentoring the next generation of conservation stewards has never been more important and the Juniper Program is one of many ways that ACR is putting Conservation in Action.