The Hudson River Sloop Clearwater offers a variety of ecology-based experiences to thousands of youth and adults each year. One of the most successful parts of Clearwater’s “Next Generation of Environmental Leaders” initiative is our three-day program called Young Women at the Helm (YWH).


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2015 Class of Young Women at the Helm, August 4-6

The program begins with outreach visits to several community groups and schools in low-income, urban areas throughout the Hudson Valley. Annually, 20-25 young women are accepted to the three-day program and participate in various on-board and onshore activities.

Studies show that young women’s self-esteem tends to plummet in their mid teens, and we use the platform of our “Sailing Classroom” to counteract that tendency. One of the goals of the YWH program has been to involve participants in activities that challenge them physically and mentally and introduce them to women who have succeeded in careers considered non-traditional for women. These role models include guest speakers and leaders from the community and the Clearwater captain herself, Annika Savio.



Young Women at the Helm 2015, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt

Participants sample experiential activities involving ecology and pollution, sailing and navigation and then choose one topic for focused learning. Broken into groups, each “watch” also learns one boat-related physical skill such as docking the vessel or raising sail that they will perform on their own.

The two nights of the program are spent ashore camping and meeting with female guest speakers from varied professions: politicians, doctors, environmentalists, scientists, historians and sea captains. At the end of the program, each group presents what they have learned to their peers

This experience profoundly affects the young women. Anna Meyer, a participant from 2008 recalls, “It most definitely made me grow and gain confidence…by teaching me how to be a leader and to never quit, to always keep going even when it’s tough.”

This program has served as a springboard for continuing involvement with our organization and the environmental field; many alumni return to volunteer and crew with Clearwater. This on-going involvement is how  Clearwater’s “Pipeline” promotes our mission of creating green jobs and future environmental leaders in the Hudson Valley.

Every summer since 2001, Clearwater has been providing this program free of charge to young women who would otherwise never have the opportunity to experience sail instruction, environmental education and rigorous leadership training.

Each three-day program costs approximately $1,000 per student to provide our top-notch educational experience, under the supervision of a professional crew on our Coast Guard- certified, 70-ton wooden ship. We hope to continue expanding our capacity to inspire a wider pool of future environmental stewards, marine scientists and community leaders.

Young Women at the Helm -Sailing sloop gives girls leadership lesson
Jennifer L. Warren – Times Herald-Record

Young Women at the Helm application (download)

Young Women at the Helm application (online)

Hauling on Halyards