Outdoor Experiences Shape a Summer

It’s hard to find a summer job—let alone one that builds leadership skills and a vision for what is possible in the future.

But thanks to the support of individuals like you, and the city of Rochester, this past summer Genesee Land Trust hosted ten urban 14-15 year-olds in the apprenticeship program where they are paid a modest stipend as they learn leadership skills and self-confidence, teamwork, problem-solving strategies, landscaping, and caring for the land. 

Many urban youth don’t have the opportunities to experience the wonders of nature and agriculture. Occasionally uncomfortable hanging out in nature, they are often unaware of professions related to land and water conservation as well as opportunities to work outside. 

Field Trips that Open the Eyes and Mind

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For some, like Janaiya Burnett, it’s a chance to slow down and break away from technology. Janaiya recalls a field trip experience, “When we were canoeing at Hemlock Lake we were asked by our instructor to sit quietly for two minutes and listen to our surroundings. I never took the time to listen before. The city is pretty loud.” 

The apprentice program uses the care and maintenance of the El Camino trail as its focal point, while field trips to places like Niagara Falls, Hemlock Lake, and Broccolo Tree and Lawn Care expand participants’ experiences and enthusiasm for the land in our region. Speakers on geothermal power, solar panels, and more offered a window into other ways homeowners and communities can work to enhance the neighborhoods.

Tonya Stevens, one of this year’s program directors, said, “The summer program is a great opportunity for the youth to experience something new. This experience allows them to reimagine themselves in the workforce and consider non-traditional employment, maybe something in conservation.” 

For conservation to last generations, more of our youth will need to experience it firsthand in a way that makes memories and becomes part of their lives. This summer, ten Rochester youth found a new connection to nature and the outdoors as well as an understanding of the workforce.