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Using Science - Parks & People Foundation - Green Jobs

BRANCHES - the Building Resources and Nurturing Community Health and Environmental Stewardship program- is a comprehensive workforce training and educational enrichment program for Baltimore's high school youth. Students participate part-time after school during the academic year and full-time during the summer. BRANCHES addresses two vital needs in Baltimore City-meaningful employment and career opportunities for economically disadvantaged youth, and more resources to care for parks and open spaces. Youth in BRANCHES work to improve the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay by engaging in conservations service activities like improving green spaces in the city, planting trees and revitalizing neighborhoods. BRANCHES participants have stayed in school and later taken jobs in natural resources fields. Currently, BRANCHES team members are recruited from, and focus landscape maintenance attention on, several public housing developments.

Conservation Jobs Corps
Parks & People has for several years partnered with Maryland Park Services' Conservation Job Corps (CJC) program. CJC recruits hundreds of city youth to work in State Parks and some City parks during the summer over a six-week period. Parks & People assists with community outreach and youth recruitment, environmental education, logistical and procurement expediting, and program evaluation to help achieve the program objectives and conservation spirit.

Chesapeake Youth Corp
Parks & People was privileged to be asked to work at the both the State and National level as the White House developed strategies for "America's Great Outdoors." A follow up action included the Strategy for Protecting and Restoring the Chesapeake Bay Watershed in response to Presidential Executive Order 13508 calls for a "dramatic increase in the number of citizen stewards of every age who support and carryout local conservation and restoration" and the expansion of "Chesapeake youth corps workforces." To that end, the National Park Service (NPS) convened the Chesapeake Conservation Corps Action Team, consisting of 22 federal, state, and non-governmental stakeholders from throughout the watershed to develop a program to implement the Executive Order. As a result of years of working with National Park Service through the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network, we were asked to host a NPS youth corps intern to help to develop this Bay-wide program. Throughout the process, stakeholders identified seven general objectives of youth corps programs. They're often described in five primary categories: Employ, Educate, Engage, Empower, and Evaluate. Together, they define the ultimate mission of Chesapeake youth corps-to build the next generation of stewards who lead by example through their work, play and civic action. In addition to providing support for the NPS Youth Corps intern, NPS has also helped to support BRANCHES and CJC summer programming with greater opportunities to experience outdoor recreational adventures and conservation projects.

URI Internships
Parks & People's Urban Resources Initiative (URI), a partnership program with the Baltimore City Recreation and Parks Department and many academic institutions, is an applied research collaboration using innovative research, community building projects, and education and training programs to strengthen the ties between residents and their recreation and parks system and the natural environment. The initiative sponsors a competitive internship program that offers undergraduate and graduate student interns the opportunity to lead and develop activities consistent with the URI aim of assisting underserved urban communities. URI interns find practical, community-based solutions to urban parks and natural resource management issues in Baltimore. Recently, URI has focused on providing interns for priority projects of the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks.

READY Program
The Howard County government sought Parks & People's assistance to establish a youth corps program modeled after BRANCHES and CJC. Restoring the Environment and Developing Youth (READY), began in 2012 as a pilot program, creating 31 green jobs for young adults. Over eight weeks READY built 31 rain gardens and conservation landscapes. These installations treat almost 200,000 square feet of impervious surfaces. READY also demonstrated effective collaboration between Howard County and multiple non-profit organizations: the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, People Acting Together in Howard (PATH), Parks and People, and the University of Maryland Extension. READY has raised awareness of stormwater management issues and inspired many, even private homeowners, to take steps to contribute to the larger solution.