Creating Tomorrow’s Environmental Leaders

This Week in NWF History

Since 1936, the National Wildlife Federation has worked to conserve the nation’s wildlife and wild places. As part of our 80th anniversary celebration, we are recognizing important moments in our history that continue to make an impact today.

Earth Tomorrow® has been the National Wildlife Federation’s one-of-a-kind, club-based, environmental education and leadership development program for high school students in urban centers since 2001. Earth Tomorrow® creates opportunities for youth from under-served communities to develop environmental literacy by learning about their local ecosystem and environmental challenges. Youth then develop important leadership skills to address these challenges.

Over the past 15 years, NWF staff have engaged over 3,500 youth in the year-round Earth Tomorrow® program, including more than 375 Earth Tomorrow® participants in the annual Earth Tomorrow Summer Institute. The impact of the program can be seen in the hundreds of hours that Atlanta youth have spent exploring, serving in, and recreating in the more than 20 Georgia State Parks, National Park Service properties, USDA Forest Service lands, and urban forests and nature centers.

Students cleaning up a local waterway. Photo by Charles Brown

Participants have removed many tons of trash from local creeks and streams, maintained miles of trails, and restored valuable habitat for wildlife. Graduates of this program often go on to pursue environmental careers and remain connected to the National Wildlife Federation and other conservation and environmental groups as volunteers.

Many students, such as Tamara Johnson, who currently works with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, credit their success, in part, to the program, but also to the leadership and support they have received from the National Wildlife Federation’s Na’Taki Osborne Jelks. Jelks has managed, supported and implemented the Earth Tomorrow® program since it found its way from Detroit, MI to Atlanta.

“Earth Tomorrow is a powerful community of activists that utilizes mentorship to foster [environmnental] stewardship.” – Tamara Johnson, USFWS Wildlife Biologist

Participants and partners alike tout the value of the program as a pipeline initiative that not only increases the diversity of the environmental workforce, but that also inspires youth of color to be lifelong environmental stewards.

Earth Tomorrow program staff, Na’Taki and Crystal Jennings, Education and Leadership Development Coordinator, are currently preparing for the 2016-17 academic year with Earth Tomorrow Club sponsors and student leaders. Project plans developed during Summer Institute 2016 will be supported by staff resources and implemented using the framework of NWF’s K-12 school greening program, Eco-Schools USA.

Students cutting wood to build garden bed. Photo by Micalya Hunter
Students cutting wood to build garden bed. Photo by Micalya Hunter

Learn MoreVisit our Earth Tomorrow page on Facebook to learn more about the program! 


Special Thanks to the Kendeda Fund, other host of other local and national funders, and NWF’s community partners for supporting the Atlanta Earth Tomorrow® program over the years!