Goal: to nurture the next generation of environmental leaders
Youth are the driving force for change in communities, and they are central to Groundwork’s mission of Changing Places and Changing Lives. Groundwork trains, employs, and mentors hundreds of youth each year through a year-round program that includes summer jobs and after-school employment, internships, and school-based education.
The National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. EPA consider Groundwork’s youth programs among the best in the nation. In operation for more than a decade, our youth program has been the standard-bearer for youth conservation programs within the Groundwork USA national network, which includes a National Youth Summit and partnerships with Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and the Appalachian Trail National Parks.
Five key attributes make our youth program highly effective:
- We make environmental careers relevant to Yonkers youth by focusing on projects in their own neighborhoods and providing long-term paid job experiences.
- We excite passion and inspiration in urban youth by providing work experiences at some of America’s greatest national parks. This also helps the youth understand their local stewardship work in the context of the broader environmental movement.
- We build strong relationships with youth by keeping groups modest in size, encouraging youth to return to the program year after year, and fostering leadership and teamwork.
- We provide a “real-world” work environment that includes community outreach and environmental education, as well as technical training and skill building in river and wetland restoration, trail building and park development.
- We engage high school students at their schools–teaching classes, supporting teachers, and providing a unique, after-school field experience.