High school students from Australia and New Zealand spent the first week of December at Lake Tahoe learning about the local environment, culture, and politics. Lake Tahoe was the first stop on a three week long Youth Leadership Program.

The program is aimed at empowering youth to understand their world, develop leadership skills, and civic responsibility. During their time at Tahoe, the group went on tours and attended presentations hosted by local agencies and organizations. The students gained insight into environmental issues at Lake Tahoe and strategies to address them.

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency hosted the 18 students at their Stateline, Nevada office on December 3 and discussed the unique bi-state governance structure at the Lake designed to preserve and restore the sensitive environment. TRPA also taught students about several key issues including aquatic invasive species, stormwater management, and climate change.

Once the students return home they will complete a stewardship project using the skills they learned on the trip. “It will be good to go home and use the strategies we’ve learned to try and make a difference,” one of the students said.

“They really picked up a lot from the organizations that they can hopefully duplicate back home,” said Greg Marcus of the U.S. Department of State.

After Lake Tahoe, the group will spend a week in Portland and Seattle. The program culminates with a final week in Washington, D.C. The Youth Leadership Program is administered by World Learning, a global nonprofit organization, and funded by the U.S. Department of State.

Local agencies and organizations that worked with the Youth Leadership Program group included Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, League to Save Lake Tahoe, UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, Southwest Climate Science Center, Tahoe Fund, U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, Whittell High School, California Tahoe Conservancy, and South Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition.