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Youth Leadership Program





“Before Bioneers I thought that I was incapable of accomplishing anything great, I had no inspiration, which in turn gave me no drive. Now I have never been so inspired and ready to help others and the environment. My creativity is at an all time high.”
– Graham Holton, Truckee CA

The Bioneers Youth Leadership Program is a life-transforming opportunity for young leaders to learn, further develop leadership skills, build alliances, and strengthen the capacity and connection among youth and elders focused on environmental, social justice and food systems work. The Youth Leadership Program is a parallel program that occurs within the annual National Bioneers Conference where youth are encouraged—though not limited—to attend youth-related workshops and activities.


“Through the youth program’s World Cafe I met some really great people that I will collaborate with in the future in school, professionally, and in life. I met numerous people at Bioneers that have directly impacted my life and career. The networking was the most valuable aspect of the conference to me and I plan on coming back every year until I cannot.”
– Bryce MacMath, Sebastopol CA

As former Youth Leadership Program Director Kristin Rothballer said, “Youth are now defined by ecological crises in a way that past generations have not been.” The challenges are formidable indeed, but we are grateful to nurture, mentor and support the education and leadership of our youth as they carry forward the long struggle for building just and resilient communities.”

If you’re a young person aged 13-23 and you’re committed to creating positive change in the world, then you are primed to join us for the annual National Bioneers Conference and experience our Youth Leadership Program!

2016 Highlights
  • Orientation: Thursday night before the conference, meet other young change-makers who will be attending Bioneers and join a mentoring team where you will share, process and explore your Bioneers experience during the conference with your peers and an experienced mentor from Weaving Earth. A healthy, delicious dinner will be served.
  • Community of Mentors: Connect with Bioneers leaders across diverse disciplines, issues and backgrounds. This is a rare opportunity for youth to sit in a small interactive session with a Bioneers’ luminary to have your questions answered regarding the development of your personal leadership.
  • Conference Participation: All-access pass to experience the inspiration and wisdom of the Bioneers keynotes and panels of experts from all over the globe.

Here are some of the 2016 conference highlights

Ryan-Camero martinez_xiuhtezcatl_2016

Ryan Camero

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez

Youth Keynote Speakers
  • Ryan Camero, a 2015 Brower Youth Award Winner, uses his art and a community art project called Sucked Dry to tell the story of the fragile ecosystem of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and corporate efforts to privatize California’s water.
  • Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Indigenous eco-hip-hop-artist/activist and Youth Director of Earth Guardians is organizing youth globally to honor the Earth and make a stand against climate change.
Youth-Led Workshops
  • Hip Hop For Change (description coming)
  • Open Mic Youth bring your stories, songs, poems, issues, jokes, and ideas to share. This is a chance for all youth to take the stage and be heard.
  • Liberation in Action: Reconnecting Youth, facilitated by Barbara Jefferson, is an experiential workshop that draws from the practices of Joanna Macy’s work and Theatre of the Oppressed that builds motivation, creativity, courage and solidarity for the struggle toward collective liberation and ecological sustainability.
  • Poetry Slam Hosted by eco-hip-hop artist/activist Xuihtezcatl Martinez. Inspiring young poets share their original work.
  • Increase the Peace Conflict Resolution facilitated by Destiny Arts, is designed to deepen dialogue and awareness of challenges youth face at school or in their communities utilizing team building games in conjunction with a movement discipline and discussion circles.
Youth-oriented Projects and Activities
  •  Youth of Color Caucus: What is the role of youth of color in the environmental movement?  Explore the connection between social justice and environmental crisis. Facilitated by Brandi Mack.
  • LGBTQ Caucus: A safe space to be with allies and share issues that pertain to your community in an open discussion. Facilitated by Kristin Rothballer.
  • Wiser Together World Café: Partnering Across Generations, interactive sessions hosted by David Shaw of UC Santa Cruz’s Common Ground Center and Dana Pearlman, offer facilitated intergenerational dialogues and open space sessions.
  • Interactive Mandala Project led by Aaron Ableman and Erika Minowsky, plus digital storytelling and other media and art projects.
  • Youth Performances: open mic, poetry slam, Trashion Show and more.
  • Community Mandala. Join Aaron Ableman of Pacha’s Pajamas and Erika Minkowsky in creating a large-scale art piece with seeds, flowers, gourds and shells.
The Youth Leadership Program has been working for over 15 years to inspire, connect and provide resources to youth who are committed to making the world a better place. Last year we had almost 500 youth, of those almost half were youth of color and of those 70 were Indigenous youth. The diversity extends to all levels of experience and engagement, individuals and groups, giving young aspiring change-makers the opportunity to add to their tool kit, develop relationships, expand their network and move forward on their path with new strength and purpose.

Sound like you or someone you know? Join us!

To register, click here

We are pleased to offer deeply discounted student and educator rate tickets. Additional scholarships are available for students or groups with financial need. For more information, contact

Ready for Bioneers 2017?
Join us Oct 20-22. Registration will open May 15. Enter your name and email address to be alerted to special early rates.
If you are recognized as a member of an American Indian, Alaska Native or global Indigenous community, click YES to apply for the Native Youth Scholarship
Thank you for visiting our site! We're really excited that you are interested in the Bioneers community. As per our postcard, when you sign up for our mailing list, you will receive 15% off of up to 2 tickets to the Bioneers conference and be entered into a raffle for 2 free tickets to the conference. Winners to be announced July 4th. Hope to see you at the conference!
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