The Center for Conservation Leadership (CCL) is an engaging environmental education program for teens in Lake County, Illinois. The program develops and empowers the next generation of conservation leaders to understand and appreciate the importance of human interaction with the environment and to take responsibility for its care and preservation.

Learn more about CCL's norther Wisconsin experience - click above

CCL begins with the Certificate Program. This includes a three-week, immersive experience where students explore topics such as forest management, water quality, geology, and ecology while hiking, canoeing, camping, and kayaking through the beautiful forest and waterways of northern Wisconsin.

As part of the Certificate Program, CCL students work on mentor guided conservation stewardship projects designed to have a positive conservation impact on the student's community. These action projects engage students in a leadership role as they collaborate with peers and adult community members to complete the project.

Find this year's stewardship projects here!

CCL students who complete the Certificate Program have the opportunity to explore the wonders, beauty, and ecosystems of Yellowstone National Park. Students share their experience through our interactive story map.

View Story Map - click above

Facebook: @CenterForConservationLeadership
Instagram: @LFCCL

Check back soon for updates on our 2022 program and application. If you have any questions, contact

The Center for Conservation Leadership (CCL) develops and empowers the next generation of conservation leaders to understand the importance of human interaction with the environment and to take responsibility for its care and preservation. CCL enables teens to develop a sense of belonging to the natural world with a group of like-minded people. CCL participants are motivated high school students from diverse backgrounds with a keen interest in the environment and a passion for the outdoors. The year-long program combines environmental education, leadership training and community service in an in-depth, field-based experience.
July 6 – 29, 2021: Teen Naturalist Summer Experience
CCL begins with a special interactive experience called The Path to Conservation which includes videos, virtual or in-person meetings and field trips, to help you understand the natural world and how nature is part of many professions, including those not traditionally thought of as “outdoors,” such as health care, city planning and even yoga. It is a pathway for young leaders interested in belonging to the natural world, working within it and increasing skills to help make that connection happen.

You also engage in a self-guided exploration of the green spaces nearest your home to broaden your environmental awareness.

July 30 – May 1, 2022: Action Project
As students, you will work on an Action Project, tackling an issue that has meaning to you as a group. Together you find solutions and work to positively impact your communities.

Students also participate in several field trips and workdays, improving our local environment where we live, work and play.

June 13 – 30, 2022: Eco-trip to Northern Wisconsin
Students who complete the Action Project are welcome to participate in a culminating three-week trip to northern Wisconsin designed to be an integrated and interactive experience. We hike, backpack, canoe, kayak and rock climb, incorporating all we have learned.

Throughout CCL, you continue to have more opportunities to challenge yourself, build relationships, and explore the environment. CCL rewards you with knowledge and a sense of belonging to nature as a future conservation leader.

Application Information
Applications accepted until May 15, 2021. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. We will notify you via email when we receive your application.
APPLY EARLY! Preference is given to students who submit an application early.

Students applying to the CCL Program make a commitment to all components of the program:
• A first year summer experience, July 6 – 29, 2021
• Summer and school year work days and educational seminars
• Community Action Project completed by May 1, 2022.
• Those who complete the above are invited to a three week trip to northern Wisconsin

To Apply, you must:
• Be a high school student in the 2021-22 school year.
• Submit all application materials by May 15, 2021, including:
     > Student completed application questions and contact information.
     > Recommendation form.
     > Scholarship materials (if applicable).
• CCL tuition is $3,000. ($500 is due prior to July 1, 2021; the remainder is due on May 1, 2022 before the trip to Wisconsin). This includes transportation, lodging, food, activities and programming. For help with tuition, please see Scholarship Application.

Looking Ahead:
• Upon receipt of application, students will be contacted for an interview.
• Students will be notified of admission decisions no later than one month after the receipt of completed Application.

You may also download the application from our website here.


Each year, CCL offers tuition assistance to applicants who show potential to excel in CCL and who would be unable to attend without financial aid. This support is made possible by the generosity of CCL donors.

Anyone who would not be able to participate in CCL without financial assistance.
Financial assistance is awarded according to both need and merit.
The typical award ranges from $500 to $2,800. Please do not apply for more assistance than you need.
• Your completed Application
Scholarship Application

Questions? Please call 847.910.4610 or email