By: Jennifer Kaiser
After weeks of ceaseless snow, rain, sleet and hail Youth Outdoors tacitly basked in the unexpected pleasure of a sunny afternoon at Minnehaha Park. Our day’s mission is to finalize the Youth-Led Service Project, a crucial element to successful completion of the Youth Outdoors program. So far we’ve narrowed down the project to raising awareness about pollution -- ideas thrown around have involved billboards, t-shirts, trash pick-ups and restoring a community garden. My co-leader, Noah, and I encourage our crew that nothing is impossible, but are a little taken aback by the next idea: “robot trash sculptures!” Of course, this turns out to be much more popular than the previous ideas of gardening and community trash pick-ups. With the group in consensus and the weekend two hours away, we decide to leave talk of feasibility till the next workday.
I’m lucky to have such a diverse, hardworking group of young people in our crew, and although we’ve accomplished plenty in terms of restoration work and environmental education, we’ve had a lot of laughs. From talk of “trash robots” to explaining the definition of hormones and getting the youth to try hummus (“it just sounds gross”), Noah and I manage to find a balance between friend/mentor/supervisor.
Without further ado, let’s get to know these young environmentalists:
Crew Member: Aliyah
What new things have you learned working in the corps?
A lot of environmental things, a lot about diversity, unity, togetherness and teamwork.
What do you think is the most important environmental issue we are facing today?
What do you think is the most challenging part of working in the corps so far?
What do you like about your crew leaders?
They’re funny, hardworking, and I can relate to most of them.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
College. Getting a degree in psychology.
What’s your favorite TV show?
So many, but probably Jersey Shore.
Crew Member: Noah
Describe your best experience in the corps so far.
Working outside. [The cold] doesn’t really bother me.
What’s something new you’ve learned about yourself through this job?
Probably how far I can push myself. Before I wasn’t really working that hard, but I can push a lot harder because I realized how much I can do.
What do you think is the most pressing environment issue we face today?
Invasive species. Especially silver carp and bighead carp, since they get into the water system in the Great Lakes. Also, buckthorn killing off native plants.
Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
Ten years from now, I’ll probably be in construction or somewhere in the DNR.
If you had to listen to one song on repeat for 24 hours, what would you choose?
Some kind of dubstep. I don’t know the name, but you can never really tell when the song ends, it just keeps going.
Crew Member: Pader
So far, what has been the best part of working outside?
Having other crews come and help our crew, and playing all of the fun games that are educational.
How has work been challenging?
Probably teamwork is the most challenging. Sometimes you will get along [with your crew], sometimes you won’t.
In your opinion, what is the biggest environmental challenge we face?
I think it would be pollution and littering.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Probably still going to college to get my doctorate degree.
What is your favorite thing to do in the summer?
I like to play soccer a lot, so I’ll do that.
On a “coolness” scale of 1-10, rate you crew leaders: