U students explore Moab and environmental policies

By By Celeste Chaney and By Celeste Chaney

By Celeste Chaney

The Young Democrats of Utah and several U students will head south to camp at Labyrinth Canyon in Moab next week for more than just a campfire and s’mores.

The Young Democrats of Utah will team up with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance to take participants, including several U students, on a camping and hiking retreat Sept. 21-23. And there’s still time to join.

“(We are) going to the retreat to network with Democrats that live in southern Utah, to educate people about our party and the policies we are interested in and to have fun with friends, both new and old,” said Jen Jankowski, recent U political science graduate and college caucus chair of the Young Democrats.

The Young Democrats is part of the national organization called Young Democrats of America that is managed locally by high school leaders, college students and young professionals. Through social events, volunteer activities and political activism, the group strives to excite young people about the political process. This time, to educate young people about environmental policies, the group will work with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, a nonprofit organization that promotes local and national recognition as well as the conservation of America’s Redrock Wilderness through research and public education.

The two groups will discuss environmental issues over a campfire, hiking trips to explore and discuss unit boundaries, and a service project opportunity to repair land. The group provides all food and activities for a $15 fee, but students can receive scholarships to cover the cost.

Gear and transportation can also be arranged for while signing up at the Young Democrats website, www.youngdemsofutah.org.

The environmental policies Young Democrats hopes to address include air quality, land and water preservation, and nuclear waste disposal, “as well as the other policies that are a focus in southern Utah” Jankowski said.

Bianca Shreeve, a political science U alumna and Young Democrat secretary, said the retreat will be a meaningful, firsthand experience and initiative to pursue lobbying about environmental and other issues at state legislation.

“The Bureau of Land Management is redistricting the threatened lands of that area,” Shreeve said.

Participants will discuss this development and how those lands should be used, she said.

Representatives from the nonprofit organization The Nature Conservancy will also be attending, as well as Utah State Legislator Jennifer Seelig.

“I’m there to learn. It is an opportunity for all of us to see the landscape that we share…regardless of political affiliation, we all serve the same state,” Seelig said. “We are a product of our landscape, (we must) realize that this relationship exists, everything that we are doing to our landscape ends up impacting us as well.”

Young Democrats members hope to invite Republican legislators and interested students to the open retreat, she said.

“Age and membership (to Young Democrats) is not an issue,” Shreeve said. “The more perspectives the better.”

There is one requirement for those wishing to attend. The last day to sign up is Sept. 19 and participants must attend a mandatory meeting at the Democratic Party headquarters at 455 S. 300 East Suite 301 before the retreat. The meeting will cover transportation arrangements, gear and scholarships if needed.

Interested students can contact Shreeve at 390-0963.

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