@National Conservation Training Center (NCTC)
Activism • Climate • Conservation • Policy
Environmental Leadership & Policy
at National Conservation Training Center (NCTC)
- Days 7
- Typical Cohort Size 50
- Grades Rising 9th - 12th
- Standard Tuition $1995
- Accepting Scholarships? Yes
Driven to be a change-maker? Become a U.S. Green Schools Fellow!
The Student Climate & Conservation Congress (Sc3) convenes again this summer at NCTC, the Nation’s Premier Training Facility for Environmental Leadership!
If you are driven to create positive change in the world, the Student Climate & Conservation Congress (Sc3) is excited to again invite rising 9-12 grade students to become a U.S. Green Schools Fellow at America’s most prestigious student leadership program for aspiring change-makers.
Training extraordinary youth leaders since 2008, Sc3 is a week-long leadership program that is convened annually at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Conservation Training Center (NCTC), the nation’s heart of environmental and climate leadership, located in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.
Participants, known as ‘Sc3 Fellows,’ spend one exceptional week learning from faculty and experts in the government, non-profit, and corporate sectors. Through discussion, networking, and hands-on experience, Sc3 Fellows will explore the environmental, social, and economic interconnections that impact climate change, environmental justice, natural resource conservation, youth activism, and the challenges/opportunities facing their generation in an ever-changing world.
Developed by the Green Schools Alliance (GSA) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Conservation Training Center (NCTC), the goal of Sc3 is to educate, train and empower outstanding student environmental leaders with the skills, knowledge, and tools needed to address climate change and natural resource conservation challenges, as informed change agents within their communities. Whether through the arts, humanities or sciences, youth leadership is needed more than ever and comes in all forms.
Since 2008, Sc3 has inspired and prepared the next generation of stewards to follow in the footsteps of climate and conservation leaders and advocates who have come before. Sc3 alumni Fellows have gone on to top universities and colleges, and many have become leaders in their schools, communities and chosen careers.
We focus on developing three pillars of environmental leadership in our students. What is environmental leadership?
KnowledgeTaking action starts with building knowledge. Participants — through discussions, workshops, and connecting to nature and place— will explore important concepts in the field of sustainability. An essential question guides this process in every program. By the end of the week students will have made gains in eco-literacy and built a solid foundation in principles of climate change, conservation, and sustainable development.
SkillsWe emphasize the application of knowledge to practical, real world problems through a project-based approach that allows for an in-depth investigation of an authentic and complex environmental problem. Knowing about something is very different from knowing how to do something. We structure the program to bridge this gap, developing functional, transferable leadership skills in the process.
PassionSc3 is an authentic space for students to explore their own value structures, professional and intellectual interests, and how their beliefs inform their environmental ethic and activism. It is a space for youth to engage in their own sustainability journey with other like-minded peers. Our students are part of an emerging global community passionately committed to protecting human and planetary health and creating a more sustainable world than the one that exists today.
Participants - known as 'Sc3 Fellows' - spend one exceptional week at the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) learning from faculty and experts in the government, non-profit, and corporate sectors. Through discussion, networking, and hands-on experience, Sc3 Fellows will explore the environmental, social, and economic interconnections that impact climate change, environmental justice, natural resource conservation, youth activism, and the challenges/opportunities facing their generation in an ever-changing world. The NCTC campus 'footprint' comprises a little over 100 acres, leaving untouched more than 400 acres of natural habitats, including old fields and meadows, deciduous forests, the Potomac River, and shoreline springs, creeks, ponds, small wetlands, and moss-covered limestone cliffs. Check out what past students have to say about Sc3
The What and the How
Sc3 envisions a world where every person is aware of and accountable for the impact they have in creating an environmentally, economically, and equitably sustainable future.
More than almost anything else we do, we strive to build a cohort of intellectually curious youth from all over the world. Our programs emphasize dynamic project-based learning, personal growth, and discovery. This is NOT a "take notes and study for the test" type of program. This IS an "I'm all in, let's get our hands dirty and have fun while doing it" type of program.
What Calls you? What problems do you want to solve? How will you be a global citizen in your school and community?
Through open space collaboration, the Sc3 Sustainability Leadership Training program connects “Student Fellows” with nature and place, each other, and experts in their fields. Sc3 is a unique shared experience that:
- Guides you through a program that helps you to identify your global concerns, the problem you want to solve and inspires meaningful action.
- Engages you in an immersive campus environment through a program mentored by experts and sustainability thought leaders in the sustainability field.
- Inspires innovation, entrepreneurial thinking and bold project action that fosters meaningful, measurable, positive impact based on each student’s interests.
- Empowers you with the skills & tools to influence change in your homes, schools, community and beyond.
For additional information and an Sc3 photo gallery, visit the Green Schools Alliance website.
This exciting program is run in partnership with the Green School's Alliance. Together, we hope to continue supporting and cultivating the next generation of environmental leaders. You can find lots of additional information about SC3 on the GSA website.
We use a tiered tuition model that leads to more socioeconomic diversity in our cohorts.
Our standard course fee, which represents the actual cost of operating our programs, including the administrative costs that are necessary to sustain our organization in the long-term. This is the suggested rate for families living in high cost of living areas with household net assets of greater than $650,000 and/or annual household income of greater than $180,000.
Participants at this tuition rate cover only their direct participation costs, including lodging, meals, activities, and other programming. Participation at this level is based on the honor system. It is available to all families - no documentation required. We simply ask families to honestly consider their financial resources and ability to pay the full tuition rate.
Scholarship funding is available for students that are unable to participate at either of the other rates. Scholarship participants receive up to 100% of the program tuition in financial assistance. A parent statement of financial circumstances and a recent tax return are required.
Double occupancy rooms at the National Conservation Training Center.
Students will be provided with a full meal plan at NCTC. Dietary preferences or restrictions are no problem.
Dynamic Learning Opportunities
Project-based. Interactive. Fun. Sc3 is an applied sustainability program. We focus on the application of ideas to practical problems.
Between training modules, connect to nature and place every day traversing the NCTC campus, or optional early morning birdwatching, river walks, and yoga. A river trip on the Potomac is a highlight of the Sc3 experience.
Residential Faculty and Staff
Sc3 Faculty and Staff reside in the dorms. With a student to faculty/staff ratio of 10:3, someone is always around!
World-renowned experts from the government, non-profit, and private sector.
Pre-Program Materials and Support
Students and parents receive comprehensive and prompt pre-program support.
NCTC shuttle to/from Washington DC (if applicable) is an additional $25/person one-way. Personal expenses such as laundry, snacks, souvenirs, and other incidentals are also not included.
Maybe, but that depends significantly on a number of factors. See this article on college admissions for more info.
No. Our position on college credit for pre-college enrichment programs is that, in most cases, it drives up the cost of participation without adding much value to the experience. It’s unlikely that admissions officers will weight the fact that a course was taken “for credit” any greater than one that is not in admissions decisions. Furthermore, competitive universities do not typically allow pre-college credits to transfer. Typically to be eligible for credit transfer, a course must be offered by accredited four year degree granting institutions as part of an undergraduate degree program, be at least three weeks long and meet for a minimum of 30 contact hours, and/or course enrollment must be by a majority of current college students. The vast majority of pre-college courses, even those offered by colleges themselves, don’t meet these requirements. This is probably why large pre-college programs run by universities like Columbia don’t confer credit. They know it’s not going to transfer.
Our staff can treat basic medical situations on-site within the limits of their certifications and training. Participants with more serious needs will be transported to an emergency medical facility or urgent care.
Essential Eligibility Criteria
The mission of Sustainable Summer is to cultivate the next generation of environmental leaders. Each student must be fully committed to and capable of working hard, taking responsibility for him or her self, and working effectively in the group to achieve the goals of the program. The following Essential Eligibility Criteria state expectations of each participant.
Each participant must…
- Act reliably around hazards to minimize risk even when not directly supervised.
- Independently perceive, understand, and follow directions and instructions given by others to be able to successfully execute appropriate and perhaps unfamiliar, techniques to avoid hazards and/or manage risks. These directions may be given before the hazard or risk is encountered or may need to be given during exposure to the hazard/risk and out of necessity and practicality are often given orally.
- Be able to stay alert and to focus attention for up to several hours at a time while traveling in wilderness terrain, attending classes, or receiving instructions.
- If taking prescription medications, be able to maintain proper dosage by self-medicating without assistance from instructors or others (except possibly in emergency situations).
- Work effectively as a member of a team. This may require problem solving on an interpersonal or group level as well as a willingness to accept differences.
- Contribute to a safe learning environment—no verbal or physical inappropriate behavior of others is tolerated for any reason.
Sustainable Summer Red Rules
Violation of the following “red rules” will result in immediate dismissal from a program:
- NO engaging in activities that break US or local laws
- NO sexual contact or exclusive relationships
- NO sleeping in a room other than the one to which you have been assigned
- NO body alteration, including piercing and tattoos
- NO riding in motorized vehicles, unless authorized to do so by program staff
- NO behavior that physically or emotionally endangers yourself or others, including specifically the use of recreational drugs or alcohol
Sustainable Summer Bullying and Inclusivity Statement
Sustainable Summer defines bullying as harassment, intimidation, or any act intended to exclude or harm another person physically or psychologically. We believe that any form, type, or level of bullying or discrimination is unacceptable and we have a zero tolerance policy on bullying and reserve the right to dismiss any student who bullies or discriminates against others.
Student health and well-being is unquestionably the number one priority for every organization working with teens, and we’re no different. However, let’s start with a basic statement about traveling abroad (or anywhere, for that matter): No one can guarantee total protection from injury, illness, or death. We can, though, consider our actions in the context of risk, which is the ‘effect of uncertainty on objectives.’ Sustainable Summer has invested in the quality of its risk management practices by participating in the Risk Management Training offered by the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), an organization with over 40 years of experience managing risk in wilderness environments.
As a result of this training Sustainable Summer has developed a risk management strategy encompassing all levels of our organization. In order to mitigate the risk that is inherent in all international expeditions, we have invested time and resources in these practices because the health and well being of our participants is of the highest priority. All Sustainable Summer programs feature experienced staff using established risk management practices to guide every decision.
Students that live within driving distance can be dropped off at the NCTC campus in Shepherdstown, WV. For students arriving by plane or train, NCTC shuttles will pick up Sc3 students at Union Station and Dulles Airport in Washington DC and bring them to the NCTC Campus. Shuttles will take students back to Union and Dulles at the end of program. Details on arrival times and other travel logistics are provided to enrolled families in your MySummer account. There is a $25 one-way fee for the shuttle.
Yes. Students can apply to multiple sessions and, if accepted, participate in consecutive sessions, either concurrently or not.
30 faculty fellows from around the US join students at NCTC to advise, support, and learn.
National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) Program Testimonials
Sc3 opened me up to a world where anyone can make a difference. I discovered that all over the country, and all over the world, there are people who value nature and who really believe we can save the world. It gave me a new perspective; it showed me people are small, but the differences… Read More
Sc3 was an incredible opportunity to meet people who are as passionate about sustainability as I am. It exposed me to an amazing network of extremely qualified and dedicated individuals who have inspired me to never give up in my environmental pursuits. They have taught me priceless things about the world I live in and… Read More
Sc3 was an absolutely amazing opportunity. Not only was it super fun doing activities and meeting interesting people, it also taught me a lot about the wonderful and complex world around me. Sc3 stresses the fact that everyone can be a part of changing the world. Sc3 made me love and care about the environment,… Read More
Sc3 was an incredible experience! The speakers were fantastic… and the river trip was one of the most fun moments of my summer, as was watching the salmon swim at the Freshwater Institute. I really appreciate the effort that went into making every moment fun and engaging! Perhaps the most amazing part of Sc3 was… Read More
Sc3 provided me with a unique opportunity to spend an entire week with students all around the country who share my same interests and passions. I got to listen to fantastic speakers and spend time with amazing people who truly care about what they are doing. Sc3 helped to further provide me with the necessary… Read More
Driven to be a change-maker? Become a National Sc3 Fellow!
Step 1Apply online. Your application will include a Letter of Recommendation from a teacher or mentor, a personal statement, and two short (500 words or less) responses to open-ended questions about sustainability. There is a $35 application fee (waived for scholarship applicants).
Step 2Admissions decision, based principally on the applicant's ability to demonstrate interest in sustainability issues and to contribute positively to our community of students. Students and parents are notified via email and provided enrollment instructions. This is also a good time for parents to be in contact with our office to review any questions about the program.
Step 3A non-refundable deposit secures enrollment in the program. Enrollment deposits are made online by credit card and the enrollment form must be completed by a parent.