By Simba Blood
|Youth Outdoors teens taking a break at Keller Channel|
For the past two years, RWMWD has served as a project host for the Conservation Corps Minnesota’s Youth Outdoors program. Youth Outdoors offers low income urban teens (ages 15-18) an opportunity to gain experience with conservation and natural resource management projects while also learning important basic “first-job” skills.
|Cleaning up leaves at Keller Lake|
These young folks are organized into
crews of six youth and two Conservation Corps Minnesota crew leaders, each
working out of a different recreation center. This spring we are hosting work crews for eight out of the ten weeks of the program.
The St. Paul crews we have worked with are an ethnically-diverse group of students from Johnson and Harding High Schools, including those who identify as belonging to Hmong, Somali, Central American, African American, as well as other communities.
|Constructing brush bundles|
With these young folks we have transplanted seedlings, removed trash from pond shores and stream corridors, planted sedges and flowers in restored sites, weeded invasive plants including garlic mustard and burdock, collected native flower seeds and even constructed brush bundles for use in the upcoming Keller Creek restoration.
|Youth Outdoors team picking up trash|
As with any teen, enthusiasm for the work varies from job-to-job, day-to-day or even minute-to-minute! Overall the groups are upbeat, engaged and enjoyable to work with. This program appears to be an excellent venue in which to connect with students who have previously not been involved in Minnesota parks and natural resources management work.
To learn more about this program, visit the Conservation Corps Minnesota webpage.