‘Rural youth’ is a new focus area within the CGIAR (and in the wider academic literature), yet there are few studies which examine young people’s roles and relationships to trees, forests and agroforests. This background report suggests ways the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees, and Agroforestry (FTA) can involve rural young people into its research and action. This is at a time when academic and government reports note the widening gaps between the aspirations young people have as compared to the realities of the job markets in much of the Global South. For rural and marginal areas, these trends are especially acute as agriculture and forestry sectors decline and many rural young people desire stable, paid employment., suggesting now is a critical time to involve young people into FTA’s research and action. In doing so, the report examines how rural youth are studied from a variety of angles: in contemporary agrarian, youth and development literatures, and examines how young people are studied by five large development agencies; and by some of CGIAR’s Research Programs. In learning from these studies, the report offers four major lessons for FTA. These lessons focus on how to study rural youth and their various contexts, conceptually and methodologically; how to engage local to regional rural development activities; and how to support local to national level partnerships. All of these activities give means and networks of support for rural young people’s development and employment. In sum, the report offers key questions and starting points for engaging with young people in each of FTA’s Flagships, which can not only move the Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Strategy forward, but help study and address the challenges facing rural livelihoods and landscapes now and in the future.