"Waste Mismanagement No More"

YouthCaN is a youth-run organization that uses telecommunication technologies to “unite environmentally active youth to exchange ideas about the environment and empower others to make a difference in their own communities” around the world.

Each April since 1995, a youth planning committee coordinates YouthCaN at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City--an event that, in addition to the more than 1,000 students in attendance, brings together youth from around the world. Simultaneously, other events take place around the US and in other countries including a major event in the Middle East called YouthCaN Med.

Through the series of conferences, events, and activities, the youth of the world are linked through the Internet and videoconferencing with the attendants of the New York City conference. Together, they share how they are using technology in environmental projects and discuss environmental issues facing their own communities.

YouthCaN New York 2004 was held on April 26th at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Activity Day was held April 24th as YouthCaN joined the Central Park Conservancy's celebration of Earth Day.

YouthCaN is co-sponsored by iEARN, the International Education and Resource Network, and the American Museum of Natural History’s Department of Education along with several high school environmental organizations and others. Other supporters include New York University and the YouthCaN Club.

The themes for YC2001 Belarus were Biodiversity and Global Ecological Issues. Here, 10th and 11th grade students are working in groups during the workshop on Fish of the Grodno area rivers. <br><br>
The themes for YC2001 Belarus were Biodiversity and Global Ecological Issues. Here, 10th and 11th grade students are working in groups during the workshop on Fish of the Grodno area rivers.

YouthCaN strives to globally “inspire, connect and educate” about environmental issues. These three key facets of the work combine to create a project which inspires young and old alike around the world. YouthCaN aims to “inspire youth around the world in improving the environment” with the idea that individuals can make a difference by being environmentally-conscious. It strives to “connect” by using modern technology to work more efficiently and improve global communications. Lastly, it hopes to “educate” the young leaders of tomorrow by having them empower one another with knowledge of ways to help the planet.

By using telecommunications technologies, participants undertake and share environmental work globally and in their local communities.

The Sierra Leone team conducted their own Conference "YouthCaN 2002" in Freetown, Sierra Leone on April 29th. <br><br>
The Sierra Leone team conducted their own Conference "YouthCaN 2002" in Freetown, Sierra Leone on April 29th.

YouthCaN encourages anyone interested in the environment, global communications, and environmental education to become a member, participating either directly at meetings in NYC or through conference calls or video from around the world. Groups and schools are encouraged to participate in YouthCaN either by joining a workshop team, helping plan or participating in the future of YouthCaN or by working with the planning committee.

Currently there are YouthCaN contacts in Australia, Belarus, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Lebanon, throughout the US, and in other locations around the world.

Visit the YouthCaN website to learn more about this unique, earth-friendly event.

Page created on 8/9/2014 7:11:04 PM

Last edited 1/5/2017 9:58:12 PM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

YouthCaN - visit to learn more about YouthCaN, global members, past events and conferences, and to learn more about participating in YouthCaN's yearly international event.
The American Museum of Natural History in New York City - is a co-sponsor of YouthCaN and was a host to the NYC conference in 2004
YouthCaN 2004: A student's perspective - offers another interview with Nuria, an active YouthCaNer.

Extra Info

My Hero interviewed a student working with YouthCaN in New York. She is an 18-year-old high school senior and has participated in YouthCaN since 2001. Here she talks about her experience with YouthCaN, what an event is really like, and she encourages students and teachers to participate...

How did you become involved with YouthCaN?
[I became involved] through an after-school program held at Van Courtlandt Park called The New Youth Conservationists (NYC) that I was part of for two years. As an environmental program that sought to educate others about the environment, NYC used to present a workshop annually at the YouthCaN conference. I was asked by NYC to attend a YouthCaN (YC) meeting and that drew me in.

How did you become involved with iEARN?
The executive director of iEARN-USA, Ed Gragert, is a YouthCaNer--he is one of the adult advisors for the youth that are part of YouthCaN. He introduced me to the iEARN network.

Do you help in the planning/preparation of YouthCaN?
As an active youth in YC, I help to the plan the entire conference--to orchestrate the time schedule and to plan the youth-run opening and closing years. In the previous past two years I was an MC, a youth-speaker who welcomed the participants in the opening ceremony and bid them farewell in the closing ceremony. For each YC conference, we spend days preparing the museum and ourselves for the conference and all have "stuffing parties" in which we stuff around 2000 envelopes with information about the upcoming YouthCaN Conference.

How much work goes into planning this event?
A lot of work goes into the event, especially when there is a shortage of youth. We often spend weekends before the event preparing for it.

How do you feel about YouthCaN?
YouthCaN is wonderful in developing leadership qualities. Each meeting is run by a youth and the youth primarily organize the agenda for each meeting. It is also a great setting for youth and adults to interact as equals, not as teachers and students or other similar relationships. YouthCaN is also extremely important in linking environmental youth and letting them know that they are not the only ones who care about the environment. This is especially true for youth in countries where there is not much concern about the environment and the youth may feel like an outsider because they care about the environment. YouthCaN is also a really fun event. Every meeting always brightens my day.

What takes place at a YouthCaN event?
The YC Conference is commenced by the opening ceremony in which youth present the theme of the conference. Each year a theme and a corresponding logo is designed and voted by youth. The theme serves as a guideline for the YC Conference, not as a strict regulator. That is to say that the activities that go on during the YC Conference do not necessarily have to adhere to the theme, they can diverge and ramify into topics that are entirely unrelated to the theme. The only requirement for the activities is that they have to be youth-run, related to the environment and educational.
The activities of the YC conference come in two forms: tables and workshops. Approximately 30 workshops allow youth groups (both international and national) to present to the world what environmental issue they have been working on and/or their environmental concerns. Tables are similar to workshops, except the information is not orally presented in a cohesive 45 minute time-period, but visually laid out on the table. The tabler (the person manning the table) often offers additional information and explains the information set out on the table.
Furthermore, as there are YC Conferences held simultaneously throughout the world (in Lebanon, Australia, Japan and Russia, to name a few sites), we try to get a glimpse of their conferences through videoconferencing. Thus, at set times during the day we are able to see the YC Conference in another country.

How do you think students and teachers can benefit from attending a YouthCaN conference or by participating with it?
1)[They can achieve] a greater understanding of the power of youth and that it's not "hocus pocus" when we say that youth can make a difference in this world.
2) Teachers learn different ways to integrate fun and learning, making education fun for their students.
3) Youth learn about the various environmental groups and have the opportunity to join them, and thus can broaden their horizon.
4) Teachers gain a greater respect for youth [and vice versa].

What would you tell other students about YouthCaN? Would you recommend it to your friends?
I would definitely recommend this event to my friends. But I would [also tell] them about the fact that there are international students whose cultures need to be respected and who have trouble understanding English [so they know to be mindful of cultural differences].

What do you think makes this year’s [2004] youthCaN special/unique?
For the past two or three years, the conference site in the American Museum of Natural History (in NYC)--the Hall of Ocean Life (with the big whale)--has been closed for renovation. Thus, we had to shift our conference to other, oftentimes less convenient places and it [at times] caused problems. This year we have regained our site and I am excited for I have never attended a YC Conference in the Hall of Ocean Life.

What’s the best part about YouthCaN?
The people [are] very kind and fun-loving. There is a real sense of community among YC. The best part about this global community is that it is not exclusive, any youth of any type is welcomed and can easily join. We are a community, NOT a clique.


Author Info

My Hero interviewed two high school YouthCaNers. Below is one interview in which the participant talks about working with YouthCaN, what an event is really like, and why she feels students and teachers should get involved.

Also visit Nuria's interview and learn more about why this student is so passionate about YouthCaN, why she thinks it's the best learning experience possible, and why she encourages everyone to participate.