Rensselaer Youth Outdoors exists because of the collective efforts of parents, schools and organizations from across the Rensselaer Plateau. Our shared love of the waters, soils, forests, rocks, wildlife and people who live here motivate the mission and vision of this organization. 


We know that regular time outdoors helps young people thrive. Technology, as helpful as it can be, often keeps youth indoors, in front of screens and disconnected from the natural world, themselves and each other. For so many, access to nature is determined by race, income and zip code. Thriving young people mean future conservationists, clean water, health ecosystems and less violence throughout all of our communities. This is the mission of RYO, to make sure our youth, of all ages, have accessible, nurturing experiences in the natural world. 


Supported by the work of the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance, Dyken Pond Environmental Center and Grafton Lakes State Park, RYO is a network of these partners and more. Together, we introduce and engage children and families of Rensselaer County in the wonder, science, and adventure of nature in an effort to create a healthier, more sustainable community in an increasingly complex world.  


Additional representatives from Siena College, Cornell Cooperative Extension, the Rensselaer Land Trust, various Rensselaer School Districts, and the USDA Forest Service - Northern Research Station assist in advising and implementing RYO programs.  


This work grows when you get involved. To find out more contact us or get involved in one of our upcoming events.

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We receive funding from the New York State Conservation Partnership Program (NYSCPP) and New York's Environmental Protection Fund, as well as the 'Northern Research Station, Forest Service, USDA, Ann Allen Cetrino Family Foundation, Kelly Family Cuidiu Foundation, NYS Connect Kids to Parks Program, Rensselaer Land Trust and the Friends of Dyken Pond.


Celia grew up on the land outside of Brockport, NY where she learned how to plant peas, count tadpoles, protect pine trees and nurse baby bats who had fallen out of the nest. Surrounded by small family farms and neighbor-owned forests, she learned a deep respect and reliance on what nature offers so generously.


At age 20 she hiked the Appalachian Trail and learnt to love and respect her body's natural strength and beauty, values she struggled with as a young girl. Soon after she interned with Sue Morse, one of North America's top wildlife trackers, and encountered the incredible influence of citizen science. She also got to meet and learn from a powerful woman who was leading in the field of environmental conservation. 


Since then Celia has become an experienced facilitator and mentor for young activists and social justice groups. Committed to listening to all voices, she brings to RYO a passion for supportive positive change in the community and knows that everyone has something to give. She’s been fortunate to hike many more trails, study and make plant medicine and is learning how to responsibly care for the small forest she stewards in the Adirondacks. 


Having lived in a wide range of places - cities, small towns, in the country and in the woods - Celia chose to work at RYO because she values urban and rural youth and wants to help build the future where we all can live. 


"Transitioning out of the intensity of COVID, I'm eager to get creative with teachers and to figure out how RYO can support youth's well-being in Troy and throughout the county. Now I have a chance to help other young people develop a deep relationship with nature and the strength and self-determination that come with it. "

—Celia Kutz

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