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Program interns participated in three days of interactive agriculture workshops where they learned the importance of the agricultural industry for our environment and economy. Photo courtesy of Delaware State University.
Fourteen Delaware youth received more than just paychecks by participating in the 2017 Green Jobs Program a multi-organization partnership coordinated by the University of Delawares Water Resources Agency this summer.
As part of the summer youth employment program, 14 students from middle schools and high schools across Wilmington immersed themselves in a summer of hands-on outdoor environmental work and career exploration that will benefit both the students future and the states ecosystem.The Green Jobs Program is an employment program for Wilmington residents specifically tailored to the citys youth that gives participants the chance to work 25 hours a week at different sites throughout the area as interns. As its title suggests, those selected for the program are tasked with helping the environment by revitalizing parks, planting gardens, removing invasive plant life and more.
Those selected for the Green Jobs Program benefit both the city and the state by aiding green jobs employees, creating eco-conscious citizens and boosting the environmental maintenance and appeal of neighborhoods and parks, a proven method in reducing crime. Not only does this unique youth employment opportunity provide a benefit for the environment, but it also pays off for the students involved, who learn important job skills and connect with adult mentors, potential future employers, and key players in protecting Delawares environment.Started as a collaboration between the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), the City of Wilmington, and the University of Delawares Water Resources Agency (WRA), part of the schools Institute for Public Administrations Water Resources Center, the Green Jobs Program was founded in an effort to create a youth employment program with an environmental and water resources focus.
"The City of Wilmingtons head of Parks and Recreation and I worked together through the citys existing Summer Youth Employment Program to develop the program and it has grown ever since, said WRA Policy Scientist Martha Narvaez.
From July into August, the Green Jobs Programs interns traveled across the state to gain a well-rounded understanding of the environment and the jobs that support it. At Delaware State University, the students participated in three days worth of interactive agriculture seminars. Guided by The Nature Conservancy, participants learned how to monitor water quality and assess water stream health, both important in protecting waterways from dangerous contamination and pollution. At UDs Webb Farm, program interns learned about the schools chickens, cows, goats, and bees. By the end of the six-week program, the 14 interns had learned about and worked in roles relating to agriculture, horticulture, aquatic ecosystems and keeping the community and environment safe and clean.
I wasnt an outdoors person until I got started, said 2017 Green Jobs Program intern Imani Douglas. But now I am, and I couldnt have enjoyed the program more.
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Wilmington Mayor Michael S. Purzycki honors the 2017 Green Jobs Program as they receive their participation certificates at the programs closing event.
family and program hosts gathered at the Delaware Center for
Horticulture in Wilmington on Aug. 10 to honor the 2017 interns and the
Among the attendees was Mayor Michael S.
Purzycki, who himself witnessed the hard work of the 2017 class
firsthand when he visited them on the job in July. Being mayor is not
easy. There are challenges. The antidote for me is to go out and spend
time with our youth, said Mayor Purzycki, an avid supporter of the
citys youth employment programs. They made a great impression.
an early age, youve received a glimpse into one of the most important
issues: the climate, Purzycki told the programs interns, reminding
them to never forget the important role they play as ambassadors in
helping the environment.
The Wilmingtons Green Jobs Program not
only creates stewards of the environment, but it also provides
participants with professional experience, career opportunities and a
network of supportive mentors and professionals, program hosts noted.
program has a mentoring component that has helped the youth connect
directly with professionals in the environmental field, said Narvaez.
I also see the program hosts benefitting by reaching audiences they may
not typically reach and inspiring youth to work in their line of work.
werent paid to be here, but we were investing in the youth, and in
turn the City of Wilmington, said Darion Gray, the Green Jobs Program
Gray, who serves as the executive director of the
Wilmington Youth Leadership Commission, spoke fondly of his time spent
working with and mentoring the 2017 intern class and expressed gratitude
to the participants for their hard work, challenging them to continue
to be strong advocates for the community and the environment. What I
want the youth to know is that the only voice unheard is the voice
unspoken. Without our youth, tomorrow is not a promise.
Green Jobs Program participants explored all that nature has to offer and learned how to protect it with the Delaware Nature Society.
its inception, the Green Jobs Program has continued to flourish and now
encompasses 15 distinct organizations that host the youth throughout
its six-week agenda.
The programs success is dependent on the
valuable work of these organizations and we look forward to continuing
the program, said Narvaez. We are also working to further develop the
reach and scope of the program as has been requested by the youth, the
city and the host organizations.
The 2017 Green Jobs Program
hosts included the City of Wilmington Departments of Parks and
Recreation and Public Works, Delaware Center for Horticulture, DNREC,
Delaware Nature Society, Delaware State Parks, Delaware Solid Waste
Authority, Delaware State University, Mid-Atlantic Youth Anglers and
Outdoors Program, Springmill Community, Filaskys Produce, Partnership
for the Delaware Estuary, RK&K, PSEG, the Delaware chapter of The
Nature Conservancy and the University of Delawares Water Resources
Originally published in UDaily on September 1, 2017. Article by Chris Kelley. Photos by Delaware Nature Society and Delaware State University.