Youth Leadership

Fostering the Next Generation of Visionary Leaders

The Bioneers Youth Leadership Program connects young people with a unique mix of innovators, elders and other youth to inspire and support them in authentic engagement and leadership.

More about Youth Leadership | Watch videos of Bioneers youth speakers | Apply for a conference scholarship

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Why Youth Leadership?

“I met so many amazing people and encountered so many new ideas at Bioneers. It was refreshing to meet other people my age who were not only talking about these issues, but actively participating in their solutions. There was a sense of community and dialogue that was surprisingly inclusive of all ages and experience levels.”   – Zoe Gregozek, Santa Cruz CA, Age 17

Youth are often prime movers of social change and leaders in innovation. They push boundaries, watch, listen, create, express, and ask hard questions.

As the world has shifted from urgency to emergency, these qualities are needed more than ever as we grow the movements toward a more socially and environmentally equitable world.

If you're a young person aged 13-23 and you're interested in creating positive change in the world, please join us for the annual National Bioneers Conference. You'll connect with staff and other youth attendees to co-create an unparalleled opportunity to explore and experience authentic leadership that is balanced and sustainable, including self-care and spiritual connection.

If you're older than 23, we invite you to engage through intergenerational dialogue and mutual mentoring with youth, building leadership that is forward-looking and also grounded in generations of wisdom.

Support Youth Leadership with a Gift to Bioneers

“Having the chance to go to Bioneers really gave me the last bit of push that I need. Here in my town I want to make some changes, but it felt like it would be something impossible to do. Seeing a speaker who had a goal like me to change school lunches helps me to know change is possible.”—Uriel Reyes, youth scholarship recipient, Watsonville, CA

We know from past youth scholarship recipients that attending the conference has been a crucial point in their life and career, leading them to choose pathways they might not have considered before, but where they’ve found immense opportunity for positive impact.

A strong and healthy community of youth leaders is a sign of a thriving movement for change. Your financial support can ensure the youth of today become the leaders of tomorrow through the power of Bioneers.

Make your gift to the Bioneers Scholarship Fund today »

Apply for a 2015 Bioneers Conference Youth Scholarship

Bioneers is committed to making the conference accessible to emerging young leaders regardless of financial capacity. Each year we offer a limited number of conference scholarships and discounted tickets.

Learn more and apply on our conference site »

Origins of the Bioneers Youth Leadership Program

Thank you for providing a forum for youth of color. You created a space to discuss this and even had speakers talk about the tension between environmental justice, racial and class inequalities. It made the conference more accessible to the youth.”– Brian Katz, Educator at Desert Mirage High School, Coachella Valley, CA

At the 1998 Bioneers conference, a spontaneous round of applause rang through the hall as mobile phone connection was made—Julia Butterfly Hill was protesting the clear-cutting of old-growth forests from her 180-foot perch in a 1,000-year-old redwood tree. She electrified the audience as she described life in the canopy and reflected on her activism as a 25-year-old youth.

The next year, after Julia descended from Luna and spoke at the conference in person, she saw the need to expand the presence of youth and organized an impromptu session on the lawn with about 30 young people. She sowed the seeds of the Bioneers Youth Leadership Program and helped get it off the ground.

Since then, youth have become a growing part of the Bioneers community—in 2014, fully 20% of all conference attendees were young people!

Read more about the history of Youth Leadership at Bioneers »

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Chloe Maxmin: Lessons from a Young Divestment Leader

At Bioneers, we believe that youth have the power to help shift the future for the better. Chloe Maxmin is one of those young people catalyzing change. Maxmin, a graduate of Harvard University, became an activist when she was 12 and started a Climate Action Club in her high school, galvanizing a movement in her school and community. …

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Creating Opportunities for Indigenous Youth at Bioneers

photo by Zoe Urness It’s extremely rare that opportunities like the Bioneers Indigenous Forum come along. In 2014, we saw the largest-ever attendance by indigenous youth because of the collaboration with our community partners. Our Native youth hold a sacred role for the health of our planet, yet come from underserved communities. With the help of …

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Xiuhtezcatl Martinez: A Young Climate Leader to Watch

Photo courtesy of Zoe Urness At Bioneers, we believe that youth have the power to help shift the future for the better. Xiuhtezcatl Martinez (pictured above, left, with his brother Itzcuauhtli) is one of those young people catalyzing change. Call to Youth to be Earth Guardians All of last year’s youth keynote speakers were inspiring to …

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Watch Bioneers Youth Leadership Videos

Get a sense of the young leaders you'll see and hear on the conference main stage with this selection of Bioneers Conference Keynotes and Performances.

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