San Francisco

Bridging the Divide Between Urban Youth and Public Lands

Politics & Social Justice


​According to the U.S. Census, there are approximately 33 million teenagers ages 13 to 19 across the nation. But over the past decade, fewer teenagers are involved in organized outdoor programs—a fact that's especially true for urban youth.

Graduate student Tanvi Sikand, who is studying broadcasting, joined a multidisciplinary team to engage urban Bay Area youth in outdoor recreation experiences by using their creativity as media producers to convey positive information about the region's forests, parks, and other natural areas. Upon completion, the team had produced 13 videos about the outdoors.

Sikand's study showed that young people are more likely to find the messages engaging, relevant, and persuasive when they are produced by their peers.

"I had very little idea of what I was in for and was awesomely surprised," says Ramiro Villalvazo, director of Recreation, Lands, Wilderness and Special Uses for the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region. "The production was fun, exciting, and spoke young people's language about the 'coolness' and adventure of spending time outside."​

SF State partnered with Bayview Hunters Point Center for Art and Technology, a local nonprofit organization that educates, empowers, and employs diverse youth and young adults from historically underserved neighborhoods of San Francisco and the Bay Area.