New River Museum program offers teens a chance to get involved in conservation

Do you like spending time in nature? Do you enjoy working on conservation projects? Do you see yourself pursuing a career out in nature? Are you worried about the environment?

The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium might have an answer for you! It is hosting a new program designed to inspire and empower teens to be involved in conservation. The Teens Take C.A.A.R.E. Initiative is a club that allows students to take part in stewardship. But what do students do in it?

According to Jared McGovern, the Curator of Conservation Projects at the museum, there are several things students can do. 

“Students will be able to explore and participate in real ongoing conservation work in our community including invasive species, habitat restoration, and wildlife restoration work. Students will also become a part of the River Museum team and transition into summer conservation and education roles and return as leaders the following year,” McGovern says.

C.A.A.R.E. stands for Conservation Action through Advocacy, Research, and Engagement. McGovern said that he started the program because “Over the years we have had the opportunity to work with teens from all over the region through sporadic volunteer experiences. Most of these experiences would engage individual students once. It was through these experiences that we were introduced to some amazingly passionate students who have self-identified conservation and sustainability as being areas of interest.”

McGovern says that one of the biggest challenges with starting up Teens Take C.A.A.R.E. is that “Teens are busy. What we originally envisioned as best practice, wasn’t.” But although McGovern had challenges in the beginning, everything worked out fine.

“The biggest win so far is the people we have engaged through this planning process.  The current team is amazing.  Another massive win for us at the River Museum is that we are gaining a much better awareness of how to meet the needs and work with people your age.”

For those looking to take part in conservation and stewardship, Teens Take C.A.A.R.E. is a perfect opportunity. 

McGovern states, “Anyone who wants to join will be on the forefront and contribute to laying the foundation for what this program will become. Give us a shout or show up for a meeting. We want you here.” For those who are interested in joining, CAARE is every other Wednesday at the River Museum from 5-7 pm.