Young Conservation Stewards
The Young Conservation Stewards (YCS) is an employment and job skills training program for high school aged youth. YCS participants learn important environmental skills, including plant identification, invasive plant removal methods, and native plant installation and maintenance. They also develop essential soft skills in public speaking, leadership, and community outreach, and engage the public at venues including the ALT-run West Broad Farmers Market, where they have spoken publicly about the importance of green spaces in our community and the ways that community members can contribute to improving them. Participation in the Young Conservation Stewards leads to increased employability and job placement post high school graduation. Students who complete the summer leave with marketable skills in a variety of job sectors and invaluable professional connections.
YCS was created in tandem with the Northeast Georgia Invasive Plant Cooperative (NGIPC), which is a collaborative effort to improve land management and community outreach and engagement. NGIPC works to increase removal of invasive plants and improve land management through volunteer coordination and development of a fee-for-service invasive management Hotshot Crew.
Youth who complete the YCS summer program are recruited to join the Hotshot Crew, and are further trained in land management strategies by Athens Land Trust, New Urban Forestry and other partners to increase program implementation while providing local youth a living wage.
In the Summer of 2021, Carly Evans, our Conservation Specialist, led the YCS in invasive species removal projects. They worked mainly at the North Oconee River Park, along the existing Greenway, aiming to improve the ecological health of the entire river corridor. We’re grateful to have had an amazing group of stewards joining us this summer, and are glad that we are able to continue the YCS program in a safe and modified way in the wake of the pandemic.