Page 22 - Georgia Forestry - Issue 4 - Fall 2019
P. 22

  Travys Harper, left, and Dana Render, right, with Youth Tree Team members working behind them at the Urban Food Forest at Browns Mill on the south side of Atlanta.
beamed with pride. Complimenting the students’ work and joking with them, he says that he “brings a youthfulness to match the kids’ energy,” and it’s clear it resonates with them.
In his second year as Youth Tree Team supervisor, he gets energized talking about the value he sees the program having in the students’ lives. “They like what we have to offer and working out- doors. You have to have a program that facilitates fun along with getting paid and learning about reforestation and the environment. And the things that they learn week-by-week are bringing out a different side of them that they never knew they had, a different instinct that they may want to pursue down the road.”
Being a part of the Youth Tree Team is not like going to summer camp. The team members are expected to act pro- fessionally and are evaluated each of the seven weeks on showing initiative, green consciousness, accountability, responsibility and respect. “Those are the intangibles that they already have, but we help foster them because they’ll need them in life,” Harper said.
“I was drawn to apply to the Youth Tree Team because it’s a job that trains us for another job,” said Ami Bluestone, a
first-year member of the team. Through “enrichment days” with Perkins + Will, the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and Dorsey Tree Farms, the team members get introduced to a wide range of career paths leveraging different skillsets and backgrounds that all help to support the health of our environment.
“After the enrichment days, a bunch of [the kids] told me, ‘I never thought about this; I’m thinking about landscape architecture or conservation now!’”
Harper said, beaming. “I’m looking into environmental engineering, and I didn’t know what field I wanted to get into until I started working with the Youth Tree Team,” Ford reiterated. “Being able to see what they do at the Atlanta Botan- ical Garden and everything that goes into their work makes me feel a lot more secure about what I want to go into.”
“They’re on the verge of high school and college and figuring out what they really want to do,” said Dana Render,
Education is one of three prongs of the Georgia Forestry Foundation’s (GFF) mission, along with leadership development
and policy studies. GFF’s partnerships with organizations like Trees Atlanta, the Chattahoochee Nature Center and Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) tap into and elevate the impact these organizations have in classrooms across metro Atlanta. Through strong partnerships with successful environmental education programs like these, GFF
is connecting more of Georgia’s 10 million citizens to the state’s most sustainable and renewable natural resource by showing how working forests impact our everyday survival, comfort and progress.
GFF and GPB taking two people into a virtual longleaf pine forest, a part of the Virtual Learning Journey: Georgia Forests platform that uses forestry to teach grades 3-6 STEAM curriculum. Learn more at education/forestry.

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