Frequently Asked Questions: WYSE
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Question  Frequently Asked Questions: WYSE
What is the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment?
George Mason University, along with its partners, National Geographic and the Smithsonian National Zoological Park (the National Zoo), are excited to welcome students attending the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment (WYSE) to Washington, D.C.

The Summit is a hands-on, interactive program that provides America's highest achieving high school students with an interest in the environment, conservation and sustainability, and with the desire to explore careers in the fields of environmental science, conservation, policy, law and engineering, with a remarkable opportunity.

Students take an active role in the curriculum through exclusive behind-the-scenes explorations of facilities and laboratories of the Smithsonian and National Zoo, and through exclusive field visits, special access to, and activities with, researches, scientists, directors and staff. Students are led in small groups by faculty advisors who are local experts in these fields and have extensive experience in conservation and the environment.

The Washington Youth Summit on the Environment is held on George Mason University's state-of-the-art campus, enabling attending students to experience life as a typical college student and reside in comfortable, modern, fully air-conditioned dorm rooms with wireless internet connections. Students will receive one college credit for their successful completion of the Summit, with transcripts from George Mason University that can be sent to any college or university where the Delegate seeks admission.

How are students selected for the Summit?
Students must be nominated to represent their school as a National Youth Delegate. Nominations may be made by high school educators or by George Mason University through information we receive about students interests and/or academic ability from college entrance exams such as SAT or ACT, or through data from NRCCUA (National Research Center for College and University Administrators), which conduct high school interest/career surveys. Educators are invited to fill out a nomination form and students will be contacted to confirm their nomination. Students must be in good academic standing, with a minimum 3.5 GPA, have a demonstrated interest in environmental conservation, and be willing to represent their school and state as a National Youth Delegate. To nominate a student or for students to self-nominate please Click Here.

What does tuition cover?
Tuition to the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment includes all of the following:
  • Six days of environmental conservation and leadership skills development, including hands-on activities, unique and special access to facilities and laboratories, and experts and leaders, and distinguished speakers
  • A dedicated Faculty Advisory/Mentor for the week
  • On-campus residence in state-of-the-art college dorms and facilities
  • Transportation to and from airport
  • Transportation in private motor coaches to all off-site events and activities
  • Breakfasts, some lunches, and dinners during the Summit (students should bring approximately $15/day for two lunches during the Summit)
  • National Youth Delegates Dinner and Gala with distinguished speakers and guests
  • All ticket and entrance fees for activities, admissions and fees
  • Certificate of completion
  • One college credit issued upon successful completion
  • Night chaperone staff who are present on-site throughout the night at student dormitories
  • 24-hour staff to address any unexpected emergencies
  • 24-hour conference hotline available to parents and students for questions and emergency situations

Tuition to attend the Conference is $1965. A deposit of $250 is due when students register for the conference, and a tuition payment plan is also available. There is no cost for students to accept their nomination and partial need-based scholarships are available.

*College credit will be issued by George Mason University. Credit is issued on a pass/fail basis, and its transferability is dependent upon the policy and discretion of the college to be attended.

Can a student apply if they are not nominated?
The Washington Youth Summit on the Environment will accept applications directly from students for a select number of spots. Students must demonstrate academic excellence; leadership, experience and interest in conservation or the sciences; and submit additional support materials. Applications will be reviewed by George Mason University Admissions staff and conference faculty. For students to self-nominate please Click Here.

How many students will participate in the conference?
Only 250 National Youth Delegates will be selected to represent their schools and states at the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment. Students must register early to secure their position at the summit as more students are nominated than spots available.

What will students do during the conference?
National Youth Delegates will participate in hands-on, experiential learning through decision-making simulations that challenge them to solve problems and explore the creative, practical, and ethical tensions inherent in conservation and the environment.

The experiential portion of the program is complemented by speakers who are themselves leaders in the field. These presenters range from prominent scientists to directors of programs and from researchers to recent college graduates already successful in the field. Speakers will engage participants in discussions on the topics explored in an energy-charged role-playing experiences, taking the National Youth Delegates far beyond a traditional classroom experience. The conference will also offer a handful of opportunities to take advantage of visiting the nation's capital, with select tours of historic sites, as well as the chance to network with other outstanding future leaders.

During these intensive educational programs, students will be led in small groups by faculty advisors who are themselves experts in the field and have extensive experience in conservation and the environment. In addition, the program is supervised by our resident faculty of esteemed professors in environmental sciences. The conference will culminate in an evening with our distinguished speakers and special guests during the National Youth Delegates Dinner. Students will have an opportunity to network with the nation's top professionals in this special event. Students will receive one college credit for their successful completion of the conference.

Where will students reside during the conference?
Students attending the Summit reside in comfortable, fully air-conditioned dorm rooms on the state-of-the-art campus of George Mason University. All rooms feature wireless internet connections. Dorms rooms are situation on residence halls that are fully staffed by Summit faculty and staff 24 hours a day.

What about safety and security?
The safety of our students is at the forefront of all Summit activities. National Youth Delegates will be led in small groups, and the resident staff/faculty (adult) to student ratio will be approximately 1:10. Students will be supervised both on campus and during all excursions and off-site activities. While National Youth Delegates do have opportunities for independent time, all students will remain in small groups with adult staff at designated meeting spots. The conference faculty is comprised of two Program Directors and a team of trained educators both at the secondary and collegiate level. All National Youth Delegates must reside in Mason's secure residence halls that are monitored at all times by adult faculty members. Parents and guardians can reach a member of our team at any time during the conference.

How do students travel to the conference?
WYSE staff members will be stationed at Ronald Reagan Washington National (DCA) and Washington Dulles International (IAD) airports from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Sunday, June 25 to meet students when they arrive in Washington, D.C. All students should schedule their flight to arrive within this window at DCA or IAD. Once students arrive they will be shuttled to George Mason University's Fairfax, VA campus.

If you are coming directly to campus, please plan to arrive between noon and 4 p.m.

The Summit concludes by 11 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on Friday, June 30. Shuttles will transport students to both Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) and Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) with ample time to make their departing flights. These flights should be scheduled to depart after 2 p.m.

Attending the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment is an amazing opportunity, and it requires a commitment of your time and resources. Many families are unable to pay for the entire conference themselves, and fundraising is an excellent way to make up the difference. To be a successful fundraiser, you will need to be resourceful. This will require you to sacrifice your free time and to plan in advance. To help you, we have put together the National Youth Delegate Fundraising Guide (PDF) designed to assist students is raising the necessary funds for the conference. This guide will help you be a more successful leader and will ultimately yield a greater sense of satisfaction in the end. Remember, start early, plan ahead and use all of your resources. Good luck and have fun!

The deadline for the 2017 WYSE Scholarship Application is December 9, 2016. Your complete scholarship application package must be received by the WYSE Program Office by 5:00pm, EST, December 9, 2016.

A limited number of partial, need-based scholarships are available for qualified National Youth Delegates. Scholarship awards are in the amounts of $500, $1000, and $1500, and are applied as partial tuition-waivers. No full scholarships are available for the Summit.

A complete Scholarship Application Package comprises:
  • A brief statement on your current financial need, what you hope to gain from participating in the program, and your interests in the field of journalism
  • An unofficial copy of your high school transcript
  • Your most recently filed Federal Income Tax Return, Form 1040

*Federal income tax return, Form 1040, filed by the individual by whom the student was claimed as a dependent. Or, if you do not file some other documentation of income is acceptable. Please obscure or remove any Social Security Numbers.

To apply for a scholarship, the student must submit his/her complete scholarship application package via email to: or fax to: 703-993-2631.

Notifications of scholarship awards will be sent December 16, 2016, via email.

Students who receive a scholarship are guaranteed a space at WYSE 2017.

Is there a payment plan?
Yes, we do offer a payment plan. To take part in the payment plan, students are required to submit a deposit of $250 when the student registers for the Summit. On or about the 15th of each subsequent month $500 will automatically be charged to the credit card on file until the full conference tuition has been collected. Any remaining fees will be collected on May 15, 2017 when the full tuition fee is due.

Cancellation Policy
Since the hosting and operation of the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment requires extensive advanced planning, costs are incurred by the Summit long before the start of the program. Accordingly the following Cancellation and Refund Policy will apply:

For cancellations prior to February 1, 2017, you may receive a full refund. For cancellations after February 1 through April 3, 2017 there is a $250.00 cancellation fee. There are no refunds issued after April 3, 2017. Students must submit all refund requests in writing to:

George Mason University
The Washington Youth Summit on the Environment
4400 University Drive
MS 3A4
Fairfax, VA 22030-4444

The full registration fee is due by May 15, 2017.

By registering for the WYSE, the student and his/her parent/guardian agree to abide by the WYSE Code of Conduct. Further, should the Contract be violated, you understand that the student will be sent home immediately at the student's expense.

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