High Line Green Corps Offers Local Teens Hands-On Experience

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Author: 
Erika Harvey
Ten local teens spent their spring break working side-by-side with High Line Gardeners while they learned about green jobs from a variety of guest speakers. Photo by Joan Garvin.
 

As part of our ongoing community engagement initiative, we are always looking for new ways to involve our closest neighbors.

This past week, we piloted a new program we call Green Corps, offering a paid alternative spring break to 10 local teens who spent a week getting hands-on experience with our gardeners and learning more about green jobs.

“Green Corps was a good experience,” Javier Montero, 17, noted after participating in the week-long project. “I think it is important to do because [the High Line] is a place for many people to come and they come from many different places. [Now] I have got a taste of how it is to be a gardener.”

See photos and read quotes from our exciting first Green Corps crew after the jump.

Friends of the High Line is committed to the community that helped make saving and transforming the High Line possible. Through dialogue and partnerships, we continue to explore ways that we can build a vibrant community around the High Line and be a good resource to our neighbors.

From April 9 – 13, ten local teens were recruited for paid positions that gave them hands-on experience working in the planting beds with our gardeners and the opportunity to hear from professionals working in green jobs. The teens spent 4 hours a day helping prune trees, weed, and tend to the plants with guidance and training from High Line Gardeners. Each day, they also received a presentation from on-High Line staff or outside professionals who spoke about their own skills, education, and professional path that brought them to working in a green job.

The High Line Green Corps was developed in response to requests from residents in the local neighborhood. Last summer, Friends of the High Line surveyed residents in the Robert Fulton and Elliot-Chelsea Houses, two New York City Housing Authority buildings located within a block of the park, as part of a community engagement initiative made possible by the Nathan Cummings Foundation. Many people expressed interest in job training, gardening opportunities, and teen-centered programs. One of the ways we looked to get teens more involved in the park was through piloting the Green Corps program. We received over 60 applications for just ten spots.

Of the final group of 10 teens who participated in our first Green Corps were three teens who have forged a strong relationship with the High Line over the past year. Carla Hernandez, Jamie Villafane, and Gabby Bruno joined Friends of the High Line’s initial community surveying efforts last summer and have since become integral in our community engagement. They have helped us spread the word about upcoming programs by putting up flyers in the neighborhood, and will even be working with other local teens, including some from Green Corps, to curate a series of film screenings in the park this summer.

Below are some of our favorite photos from the week.

(Left) High Line Gardner Yvette Weaver identifies a leaf with Green Corps members Javier Montero and Winona Holderbaum. (Right) The Green Corps weeds in the Chelsea Grasslands on the first day.
 
High Line Gardener Andi Pettis gives the group a breakdown of the day’s work.
 
(Right) Luz Adon, Liza Rosado, and Jamie Villafane thin mountain mint in the Chelsea Grasslands, near West 20th Street. (Left) Jamie Villafane (left) and Gabby Bruno (right) with High Line Educator Meglena Zapreva (center) pull up a large patch of mint.
 
Carla Hernandez (left) and Raquel Rosado (right) thinning even more mint.
 
(Left) High Line Gardeners John Gunderson (left) and Oren Sheehan (center) study an insect pest with Carla Hernandez. (Right, from left to right) Winona Holderbaum, Luz Adon, Gabby Bruno, and Raquel Rosado transplant catmint from the High Line to take home with Gardener Oren Sheehan.
 
High Line Director of Food & Revenue Melina Shannon-DiPietro (third from left) talks to the group about sustainable agriculture during an afternoon green Jobs workshop. High Line Gardeners Johnny Linville, Yvette Williams, Jordan Aponte, and High Line Custodian Judith Simon also led workshops over the course of the week.
 
Carla Hernandez gets a lesson in pruning from High Line Gardener Jordan Aponte. “I learned a lot about how to treat plants, and the work behind keeping a healthy environment. [I enjoyed] learning my own connection to the earth and what I can do in a garden, especially how to help maintain the beautiful gardens in the park.” - Carla Hernandez, 18
 
Gabby Bruno prunes a tree in the Chelsea Thicket, between West 21st and West 22nd Streets. Photo by Joan Garvin.
 
Brain Bass (left) and Javier Montero prune in the Chelsea Thicket, between West 21st and West 22nd Streets. “I am most excited about Green Corps because I am helping out the community and having an experience of working.” – Brian Bass, 15. Photo by Joan Garvin.
 
(Left to right) Brain Bass, Liza Rosado, and Jamie Villafane examine a bug they found amongst the trees.
 
Irene HongPing Shen, MSW, Darrell Williams, and Alisha Washington speak to the group about Green City Force, a green jobs training program for ages 18 to 24.
 
(Left to right) Luz Adon, Sabrina Bertot, Raquel Rosado, High Line Gardener Kaspar Wittlinger, and Winona Holderbaum plant cattails on the Sundeck, between West 14th and West 15th Streets.
 
Sabrina Bertot (left) and Winona Holderbaum (right) help clear out the Chelsea Thicket, between West 21st and West 22nd Streets. Photo by Joan Garvin.
 
High Line Green Corps 2012: (Top row, left to right) Winona Holderbaum, High Line School and Youth Program Manager Emily Pinkowitz, Luz Adon, Raquel Rosado, High Line Educator Meglena Zapreva (Middle row) Gabby Bruno, Jamie Villafane, Liza Rosado, Javier Montero, Brian Bass (Bottom row) Sabrina Bertot and Carla Hernandez. Photo by Joan Garvin.

“Thanks for this opportunity. I really learned a lot and enjoyed the experience up at the High Line. I really love what you guys do for the community. So thank you.” – Liza Rosado, 19
 

Have ideas about how we can further engage the community? Email us at info@thehighline.org.

Community engagement work at the High Line is made possible by support from the Nathan Cummings Foundation.