Blog Post By Paying it Forward with the Latin American Youth Center

Paying it Forward with the Latin American Youth Center

Inspiring the next generation of stewards to restore, enhance and protect our city and it’s trees is a crucial part of what we do. We plant trees with the intention that they’ll be around for much longer than we will – so we also need to ensure there are dedicated and invested people to care for them.

Thankfully, our longest-tenured Tree Planting Crew Member Alex Palacios is contributing to both sides of that equation. He plants trees as part of our crew but this past week he worked on the other side of the equation –  making sure there will be a cadre of folks to caring on our urban forestry work – by taking part in the Corps Networking event!

Now wait, what exactly is the Corps and what is this event?

There are technically two Corps that were at this event – the Montgomery County Conservation Corps (MCCC) and the D.C. River Corps

MCCC is an education and workforce development program that allows youth ages 18 – 24 the opportunity to explore conservation-related careers and gain job-ready skills through hands-on work experience. MCCC’s goal is to transition Corps members directly into the workforce or post-secondary education. This program is offered by the Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers (MMYC), which is also a department of the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC).

River Corps is a green infrastructure job training program for D.C. residents ages 18-24. As a Corps member, participants receive on-the-job training and certifications while connecting with jobs, post-secondary education, and opportunities for additional training.  

The Corps Networking event was, therefore, a way for current students to mix and mingle with like-minded employers, learn more about potential future opportunities in the conservation/sustainability sector and hear directly from alumni of the program – like Alex! 

Overall, there were about 50 current Corps members that bopped around to each employers’ table to chat with a representative. As Casey Trees’ representative, Alex noted that it was “good to engage with other environmentally focused groups, meet some new faces and tell them about our work, and share my story that might resonate with others.” 

The Networking event was able to create a curious, welcoming environment. Students were comfortable enough to ask questions, hear what jobs at Casey Trees actually look like, talk with partners and employers about what their aspirations are, discuss why the green industry is a huge opportunity for careers right now, and some ways to find a career in this field that they truly enjoy. Alex was pleasantly surprised by the energy and questions of the students. “Once all the employers and partners settled into their tables, students had a chance to really get to know us and we had a chance to hear more about what they had in mind.”

While climate news continues to make headlines every day and the outlook seems increasingly bleak, it’s encouraging to see the next generation of people coming together in conservation to tackle big goals. With that in mind, we had to ask Alex if he had any advice for the soon-to-graduate members of the Corps. His response, “Pay attention. To everything. There is so much to learn from so many people and it’s all out there if you pay attention.” We couldn’t agree more!

We’re working with community partners throughout the region – like MCCC! – to make Washington green for generations to come. It takes everyone and we need more folks to step up and help us accomplish this. Please consider making a tax-deductible year-end donation to Casey Trees this holiday season. The future of our urban forest depends on Casey Trees and you!

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