SPOKANE, Wash. - For 17-year-old LaFawn Sutton, the great outdoors is more like her first home.
"I'll come up here in the daytime, at the night it's really cool because it's all the stars and then just city lights," said LaFawn.
Ever since she was able to crawl, dirt has been her floor and rocks her chair.
"I'll come home and I'll be outside, from after school until my parents get home and even after that," said LaFawn. "The later I can stay out the better."
That's why the Mt. Spokane High School junior was picked to be a youth leader by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
She was one of the half dozen high school students from across the state invited to the capitol over the fall to talk with commissioners on how to get youth outside.
"A lot of kids are like, 'oh phone, computer' and stuff like that and they just don't even care about out here," LaFawn said.
The initiative comes as a result of growing technology keeping youth indoors. Encouraging kids to go outside is just part of the bigger picture; the hope is that they'll retain it for future generations.
Outdoor enthusiasts see the indoor trend as a growing threat, not only for kids' health, but also the future of conservation.
"We're the stewards of the land and more and more people are not being out there enjoying it and they're not a voice for that," said LaFawn's dad, Jim Sutton.
That's why LaFawn's parents, Jim and Kelly, have pushed their two kids to go outside as much as possible.
"Getting these kids involved now helps them to learn how to preserve what we have," said Kelly.
LaFawn says she would like to see the state agency develop a permanent youth council so other kids have a resource to voice what they need to get outdoors. She also suggested having Fish and Wildlife officials come to school and talk about outdoor programs.
But in the meantime, she hopes that parents will be the ones to encourage kids to go outside.
"It can help with being depressed, I know when I get out here I just don't even think about that stuff," said LaFawn. "It makes me more happy."
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