Indigenous Youth Camp


The Environmental Leadership for Youth (ELY) Indigenous Youth Camp is hosted by the OSU Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Sciences as an extension of the New Beginnings for Tribal Students program. The camp is intended to increase interest in the environmental sciences and access to higher education for Indigenous youth through hands-on activities and engagement with Indigenous leaders, natural resource professionals and graduate students. The residential summer camp is designed for Indigenous youth entering 9th – 12th grades and is open to youth members of all Oregon Tribes, as a priority, along with a few spots reserved for ‘urban natives’.

Canoe pull on the lower Siuslaw River with youth and the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians, August 2022.

What we do

The ELY Indigenous Youth Camp is based at the OSU campus and youth sleep in the dorms and eat at the student dining facilities to get an idea of campus life. We take field trips to educational sites around the Willamette Valley, the coast, and beyond. Some of the camp activities include: field trips to cultural and ecological restoration sites; meeting with professionals in the field and learning about career backgrounds and education tracks; nature journaling and collection of culturally-significant plants. Youth participate in lab activities using the scientific process, as well as discussion of multiple ways of knowing and Traditional Ecological Knowledge, to help answer inquiry questions. Youth also enjoy a catered diner with special guests at the OSU Kaku-Ixt Mana Ina Haws longhouse.

Studying adaptations of intertidal sea life at Hatfield Marine Science Center.

We explore various homelands, eco-regions and habitat types while, for example, snorkeling in the upper Santiam River, rafting on the Willamette River, exploring the OSU Research Forest, and tide-pooling at the beach near Newport. Youth tour campus at Oregon State University and Southwestern Oregon Community College and learn about the wide breadth of environmental science-related academic programs, financial aid and college access tools specifically designed for Indigenous youth.

Learning outcomes address STEM topics and Next Generation Science Standards, as well as tools to help access and explore options in higher education.  Self-empowerment and civic leadership are also key topics.

There is no cost to participants.

WATCH this 2-minute promotional slide show from Aug. 2022.

An outdoor dinner after snorkeling in the Santiam River.


The ELY Indigenous Youth Camp at OSU is organized in partnership with the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians (CTLCUSI) with faculty from the OSU Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Sciences, OSU College of Forestry and other campus programs and community partners. Camp coordination is lead by OSU’s New Beginnings for Tribal Students Program Manager. Sponsors include USDA-NIFA New Beginnings for Tribal Students, CTCLUSI, and Oregon Sea Grant. In 2022 the Calapooia Watershed Council co-sponsored the ELY Indigenous Youth Camp.

Getting a close-up look at aquatic macroinvertebrates, a key to understanding stream ecology.


Questions about ELY?

Email the ELY Youth Camp Coordinator, Bessie Joyce bessiejoyce4@gmail.com

or Dr. Guillermo Giannico, Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Sciences, giannico@oregonstate.edu

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