Woodlands Youth Crew is Back for Summer Season
August 12, 2020
As with so much this year, the fate of Prospect Park Alliance’s Woodlands Youth Crew was looking uncertain—until we collaborated with NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital to offer our beloved youth employment program this summer.
Through a grant from NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, the Alliance is providing six weeks of employment to a crew of 30 local high school students, including children of front-line health care workers. They are spending the summer working in the park, beautifying the woodlands and learning valuable skills.
The Woodlands Youth Crew, which has existed in various iterations since 1997, sits at the intersection of the Alliance’s natural resources work and community engagement mission. The program provides local teens with employment, along with training, mentorship and professional experience in environmental conservation and park stewardship.
“This is such an important program,” said Kate Abrams, Prospect Park Alliance Natural Resources Crew Youth Programs Manager. “The crew takes on essential restoration work which helps the park, but more so these local teens get a summer job that teaches them valuable skills. The horticulture field isn’t as diverse as it should be, and we’re educating the next generation of park and environmental stewards and exposing them to these skills and professions.”
This summer, the Woodlands Youth Crew has a sizable project to tackle—working on the watercourse in the park’s Ravine to clear the streams and waterfalls of debris, help with erosion control, and beautify the landscape by removing old fencing and encouraging native plant growth. Crew members also work with the Alliance’s Lakeside crew, helping to care for the 26 acres of native plants that sustain the park’s southeast corner.
“You see the kids grow in so many ways during their time in the Woodlands Youth Crew,” says Abrams. “In confidence, in skill, in leadership and in teamwork. They start off not knowing each other and they learn to work together towards a goal, it’s pretty cool. And they really develop their interests. Some of them are more into wildlife, some kids are into landscape maintenance —everyone has a different favorite tool, and some of them become keenly interested in conservation. It’s cool to see what interest this sparks in them and what route they take.”