In a time when many kids spend their free time playing video games, Hugo Ruellan prefers to be outdoors.
The Brighton High School sophomore has a love of environmental science and biology and has always been interested in animals and the natural world.
So when he learned he was chosen to represent Michigan as a National Youth Delegate at the 2013 Washington Youth Summit on the Environment at George Mason University, he was both happy and excited.
"I hope to learn about the kind of stuff I want to do later in life, things like opportunities job-wise," Ruellan said. "Like what it takes to become a biologist or zoologist. This is definitely field want to go into, it's my number one thing."
The Washington Youth Summit on the Environment was started in 2010 for two main reasons: to inspire the next generation of environmental leaders to pursue a career to protect and safeguard the environment and to tear down existing communication silos in the field, according to Program Director Richard Friesner.
"There are many silos that exist in the environmental field - and this is true in many fields - but in particular, the folks in the environmental field seem not to communicate well," Friesner said. "We wanted to start these students on a trajectory to break down the silos by building a network early in their career - pre-college - so not only at the program are they networking with each other, they're networking with the faculty of the program as well as the guest speakers and lecturers we have."
Ruellan is one of 250 students from across the country to participate in the week-long study of leadership in environmental science and conservation.
Students are nominated by one of three ways: by an educator, a program alumni or directly by George Mason Univesity. Ruellan was nominated directly by the university based on his state exam scores, academic accomplishments and an interest in science.
Ruellan has been to Washington D.C before on a family vacation as well and on an 8th-grade class trip.
"I really like the Smithsonian Natural History Musuem," he said. "I thought that was the coolest thing ever. It was so big and extensive for all the animals that they had."
The Washington Youth Summit on the Environment will be held June 23-28, during which Ruellan will stay at George Mason University. It will be his first time staying at a college campus.
"I think it will be really interesting to see what college life is like."