Nicodemus Wilderness Project

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Founded in 2000, the Nicodemus Wilderness Project (NWP) is a nonprofit organization in the United States which provides global experiential education and service-learning opportunities for youth to help save the natural environment while developing their own leadership skills.

The mission of the Nicodemus Wilderness Project is: "To protect wildlife and our environment and to build future conservation leaders by engaging youth in environmental stewardship projects worldwide."

NWP vision statement: "We envision that all young people will take personal responsibility and action toward protecting wildlife and the environment in their communities through NWP projects, and that these inspired youth volunteers will become the next generation of conservation leaders worldwide."

NWP values:

  • Youth volunteers become leaders when they are given the freedom to identify and solve environmental problems on their own.
  • Wildlife and the environment benefit from litter cleanups, native tree plantings, nonnative plant removal, and community recycling programs.
  • Young people develop leadership skills and confidence, which helps them become responsible citizens, when they are empowered to make a difference.
  • Stewardship of the environment, for the benefit of wildlife and communities, requires long-term commitment from concerned citizens.

Apprentice Ecologist Initiative[edit]

The primary program of the Nicodemus Wilderness Project is the Apprentice Ecologist Initiative. This environmental education program includes multiple scholarships that are awarded annually (since 2005) to provides recognition and funds for youth volunteers (ages 13–21) who demonstrate exemplary personal leadership, initiative, and environmental stewardship in their projects. The goals of the Apprentice Ecologist Initiative are to:

  • Elevate youth into leadership roles by engaging them in environmental cleanup and conservation projects,
  • Empower young volunteers to rebuild the environmental and social well-being of our communities,
  • Improve local living conditions for both citizens and wildlife through education, activism, and action.

Nicodemus Wilderness Project volunteers (including at-risk and disadvantaged youth) have completed Apprentice Ecologist projects around the world. Some examples of past projects include trash cleanups, tree planting, community/school recycling programs, wildlife protection plans, conservation education programs, graffiti removal, pollution/contamination prevention, nonnative vegetation removal, renewable energy demonstrations, trail building and maintenance, soil erosion prevention, and rain gardens. Current project results, essays, and photos are published on the Nicodemus Wilderness Project's Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists [1] as an educational resource for future youth volunteers.

Strategic Planning[edit]

The Nicodemus Wilderness Project has followed the 20-step process as outlined in “Strategic Planning for Nonprofit Organizations” by CompassPoint Nonprofit Services to create a strategic plan. In creating this plan, they surveyed members, board members, volunteers, and donors to incorporate their thoughts about the Nicodemus Wilderness Project and it environmental stewardship program into this plan. They used the “SWOT analysis” approach, where they had people provide input about the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats that characterize or affect the organization. In this strategic plan, they sought to: 1) achieve a renewed focus on those programs that help to fulfill their mission, 2) direct their resources in a way that builds programs and makes a positive difference to youth and the environment, 3) produce a planning document that serves as a roadmap for the future direction of their programs [2].


The Nicodemus Wilderness Project has applied >95% of funds toward projects and <5% of funds toward administration, business process overhead or fundraising since it was established as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 2000 [3].


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