August 7, 2023 /
Christina Hester

Summer Youth Programming

In an era where environmental challenges loom large, nurturing the next generation of environmental stewards is crucial for the well-being of our planet. Here at Casey Trees, we have taken significant strides to engage with the youth this summer through multiple innovative initiatives. By fostering connections with young minds through the Green Zone Environmental Program (GZEP), tabling at Anacostia Late Skate, and a transformative summer camp collaboration with Urban Adventure Squad, we aim to sow the seeds of environmental consciousness and create a brighter, greener future.

Every summer, GZEP partners with the Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program to provide over 300 youth and young adults, ages 14 to 24, with an opportunity to learn about energy and environmental issues, complete community-based environmental work projects such as rain gardens and storm drain markers, and prepare for careers. This year, GZEP brought together youths from diverse backgrounds to participate in an engaging workshop with Casey Trees, centered around tree care and maintenance activities. This hands-on session equipped the participants with valuable knowledge about urban forestry, sustainable practices, and the importance of trees in mitigating climate change.

The program not only cultivated a sense of environmental responsibility but also fostered a strong sense of community among the participants. By instilling a deeper connection with nature and their surroundings, GZEP encouraged the youth to take ownership of their communities and advocate for greener, more sustainable living.

We also recognize the power of meeting young people where they are—both physically and mentally. Recently, we participated in the Anacostia Late Skate, a popular community event. Casey Trees set up a table to engage directly with the youth, encouraging them to learn more about their local environment and the role of trees in urban ecosystems. Through interactive activities and engaging conversations, our education team conveyed the importance of green spaces and tree conservation. The approach helped bridge the gap between environmental awareness and youth culture, making the subject accessible, relevant, and fun for attendees.

We understand that collaboration is often the key to unlocking new possibilities, and recently, we teamed up with Urban Adventure Squad for a transformative summer camp experience. Combining Casey Trees’ environmental expertise with Urban Adventure Squad’s passion for adventure and exploration, the camp offered an unparalleled learning experience for young participants. Throughout the camp, youths engaged in activities like tree identification, temperature studies, and educational sessions on ecology and conservation. This dynamic approach not only connected the youth with nature but also instilled a sense of wonder and awe for the natural world. It encouraged them to view the environment as a playground of possibilities, motivating them to protect and preserve it for future generations.

As we face the escalating challenges of climate change and environmental degradation, engaging the youth has become a pivotal step in creating a sustainable future. Casey Trees’ multi-faceted approach exemplifies how fostering environmental stewardship in the younger generation is both feasible and rewarding. By reaching out to the youth in ways that resonate with them, we are sowing the seeds of environmental consciousness, empowering the next generation to take an active role in safeguarding the planet. As these young individuals grow into leaders, they will carry with them the knowledge, passion, and determination to champion sustainable practices and protect our urban forests.