Life at Sc3
The NCTC Campus
Set on a forested property on the Potomac River outside of Washington, D.C., the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) is the U.S. Department of Interior’s premier training facility. Home to rugged hiking trails through Eastern hardwood forests, meadows, wild birds and other native wildlife, the facility hosts national researchers, field experts, teachers, and leadership trainers, and welcomes 15,000 individuals annually for a variety of science, conservation and leadership trainings.
Students stay in beautifully appointed lodges named after conservationists, such as Murie Lodge, where the history, in the form of photos and letters from the Murie family, adorn the walls of the community living spaces. As the "home" of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NCTC collects and values our historical legacy in the midst of this vibrant new center of learning and research. Fellows leave the NCTC with a greater appreciation for America’s conservation heritage.
Throughout the world, students know their future is uncertain. They hear about climate change and environmental challenges in class and in the news, and are concerned. Many want to take action to make a difference, but feel isolated and tangled in educational systems that don’t give them a voice or the tools. In a world of cyber environmentalism, where students are no longer connected to “place,” from where will the next generation of conservationists emerge? We can’t protect what we do not love, and we cannot love what we do not understand. It is not enough to understand complex social issues. What will we do with what we know? How will we serve others? How might we work for long term social change?
The Goals & Outcome
Sc3 bores through the gloomy inertia by guiding students into productive, rewarding action, giving them not only a voice, but also a platform to actually create the solutions and change needed to preserve habitat and all living things for future generations.
Fellows learn the scientific, economic, political, and social consequences of environmental inaction, and the value of "place." Since 2009, they have been inspired by speakers like Robert Kennedy Jr, authors Douglas Brinkley and Barry Lopez, oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, Nobel laureate climatologist Dr. Virginia Burkett, organizer Bill Mckibben, artists like National Geographic film producer Lawrence Cumbo, ecological designers, arhcitects and innovators like Dr. Mitchell Joachim and "Father of LEED" Rob Watson, as well as plant managers and student environmental leaders. They learn first-hand about the opportunities to make a difference. Sc3 trains students in general leadership and organizational skills so they can lead a movement when they return home.
As a result of Sc3, Students are working together in schools and communities across the planet, sharing ideas and acting now to shape the future. Fellows are immersed in the program and return home with a new set of tools and a greater understanding of the interrelation between human societies, economies and the natural environment, making them an even stronger force for sustainable change in their local community.
In partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Conservation Training Center (NCTC), the Green Schools Alliance (GSA) launched the Student Climate & Conservation Congress (Sc3) in 2009. The mission of Sc3 is to empower outstanding student environmental leaders with the skills, knowledge and tools necessary to address natural resource challenges and better serve their schools and communities. In 2008, NCTC outreached the Green Schools Alliance, saying they wanted to host a conference on "conservation and green topics" for students. Bringing together GSA students and faculty with NCTC staff, The Student Climate & Conservation Congress was imagined and created.
Sc3 students, called Fellows, learn and live at the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC), the nation’s premier training facility of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and enjoy a full program of study focused on the natural environment and the issues that impact the future. Organized into Cohort groups, Fellows work together to develop leadership knowledge, skills and attitudes, and to explore 21st century sustainable solutions.
The Cohort & The Commitment
Essential to the Congress’ success is its Cohort structure. Throughout the week, the Fellows meet in their Cohorts comprised of up to ten students, two faculty advisors and one student advisor--a former Sc3 Fellow. Within these small groups, students discuss the issues, conduct a sustainability audit of the NCTC campus, and develop individual year-long Commitments--a Personal Action Plan that articulates their goals for the following year. Within their Cohorts, Fellows also complete a creative final project: a video or presentation that demonstrates their primary interests through the skills they acquired throughout the Congress.
The Typical Sc3 Day
The five-day Congress includes world-renowned guest lecturers, substantial group discussions, and connections with environmental and economic leaders. Each day includes time for outdoor programs, walkabouts, river hikes, campfire stories, star-gazing, and time to appreciate nature. Student Fellows give Sc3 highest marks for the balance between quality outdoor time, cohort interaction and superb presenters.
Each day is different, but the basic schedule begins at 8 in the morning, ends at 10 in the evening, and includes substantial brainstorming, as well as time for team-building, recreation and reflection. There are field explorations, hikes on the property, debates and discussions and interactions with FWS biologists, environmental leaders, and Sc3 Faculty.
06:30 - 08:00am: Breakfast & Discussion
08:00 - 10:00am: Morning Plenary
10:00 - 10:15am: Break
10:30 - 12:00pm: Break-out Session
12:00 - 01:00pm: Lunch
01:00 - 02:00pm: Challenge Exercise
02:30 - 05:30pm: Break-out Activity
05:30 - 07:00pm: Dinner
07:00 - 09:00pm: Evening Plenary
09:00 - 11:00pm: Campfire or other Evening Program
11:00pm: Wrap-up/Settle into Lodges
11:30pm: Quiet Time
The schedule varies to accommodate various activities that may include a day on the Sc3 campus exploring the facilities and evaluating the campus’ sustainability efforts, and outdoor activities such as rafting or kayaking, pond studies, and more.
The Closing Program
On the final day of Sc3, each Cohort Group presents before a three person panel that may include the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or other environmental experts. Presentations include Cohort members' Personal Action Plans and are evaluated based on content and style. It is always a great collaborative celebration to watch the presentions.
Students will be able to stay at NCTC for lunch or if they need to catch a shuttle to the airport or train station, will be able to take a lunch with them.
The Joseph A. Piehuta Prize
The Joseph A. Piehuta Prize is awarded on the final day of the Congress to an outstanding Sc3 Student Fellow who has contributed the most to the Sc3 program during the prior year. Learn More >>