Every year, WTA works with community partners to involve youth in volunteer trail maintenance. This spring, our youth program worked with eight organizations to bring more than 160 kids, tweens and teens out for at least one day of service, making our community partners responsible for engaging more than 60 percent of our youth volunteers by the end of the school year.
So far this year, WTA's community partners for youth include:
- Boy Scout Troop 571
- Eastside Catholic High School
- Pinehurst Elementary
- Seattle Homeschool Stewardship Squad
- Seattle Youth Employment Program (SYEP)
- Student Conservation Association (SCA)
- YMCA Boys Outdoor Leadership Development (BOLD) and YMCA Camp Orkila Camp.
You can see photos from some of these work parties on the WTA Youth page.
Besides increasing youth participation, the community partners foster an understanding of WTA trail maintenance programs within their organization. They create a positive culture of service and nature appreciation for their youth members.
Community partners also make it easier and less intimidating for youth to volunteer. Logistically, they manage volunteer sign-ups and transportation. While meeting new people is a great aspect of volunteering with WTA, some youth are intimidated to join an open work party on their own. Volunteering with friends can make a new activity like trail maintenance easier and more fun.
WTA's community partners also help expose youth to their first experience of hiking and trails systems.
A first-time youth volunteer from the Seattle Youth Employment Program had this to say:
Working as a team gets the job done right. I felt without working as a team I wouldn’t be motivated to accomplish what I’ve done as [part of] a group. I’ve always wondered who made trails in the forest, without them we’d be lost. I felt I had to be a part of helping. At first, I was excited, and now I’m proud of it. I can definitely use my skills [I learned today] around my [community] to make it a nicer and better environment. –Jack V.
WTA appreciates the efforts our community partners put into organizing a day of volunteer trail maintenance for the youth they work with—and for The Seattle Foundation for grant funding that helps make this work possible. Some organizers have volunteered frequently enough to earn their own hard hat (five or more days). With their experience, WTA is able to reach new youth volunteers and to encourage old volunteers to return.
A huge WTA thank you to all of the community partners who've already joined us on trail in 2012!
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Pack the Ten Essentials, plus a few more, to ensure your next hike with kids is a winner.
WTA is offering an Alternative Spring Break for teens in April--two full weeks of one-day work parties. Students earn service hours while enjoying time outdoors.
WTA has just added a Front Country Youth Vacation to the schedule this summer - working on the French Creek and Paddy-Go-Easy trails in the Cle Elum District of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest August 21-26, 2011.
Youth have several opportunities to get on trail with WTA over spring break.
Teen volunteer opportunities this summer
Spend the summer with WTA trail crews
Take the kids out for a day of fresh air and fun.
This summer WTA's youth volunteers have worked across the state making improvements to trails hikers love.