The future success of conservation and public lands relies on an engaged public that values our nation’s natural and cultural heritage. However, as the nation’s population moves to urban areas and more indoor recreational pursuits, Americans are developing a gap in their knowledge of resource conservation. Reduced involvement is most acute in the younger generations – the most important population component relative to future protection and conservation of natural and cultural resources.

The issue may be addressed within two youth subgroups—children/teens and young professionals. Many APPL members and agency partners have developed programs to appeal to children and better engage them with public lands.

APPL’s Bridge to Tomorrow initiative is focused on involving students and young professionals, ages 18 to 35, in sharing their voices and ideas for the future of parks and public lands. Through summits held during our annual APPL Partnership Convention, internship opportunities, year-round task forces and communications, APPL seeks to accomplish the following:

  • Engage a wide spectrum of up and coming voices in conversation about the value and future of public lands and public-private partnerships
  • Introduce emerging leaders to the nationwide network of parks and public lands and to the APPL member nonprofit organizations that work to support them
  • Identify and incorporate themes important to these emerging leaders, and highlight their current conservation and outreach efforts
  • Better inform APPL and its public lands partners on what is needed to encourage more participation from young people of diverse backgrounds in parks and public lands

Bridge to Tomorrow is an outgrowth of the Next Generation Fund launched by APPL’s board of directors. Through board members’ personal contributions and those of other individual supporters, APPL has employed summer and part-time interns and engaged a younger and more diverse constituency in our Convention programs, providing a fresh voice and perspective to the work of our organization.