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With WTA Support, Community Partners Get Youth Outside

Posted by Rachel Wendling at Jun 23, 2017 12:00 PM |

This spring, our youth program worked with more than 15 organizations to bring hundreds of kids, tweens and teens out for at least one day of service. Over the past few months, WTA has been honored to partner with such a diverse range of schools and youth groups across the state.

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Students from the University Childhood Development School pose after a long day roughing in new trail at the Beaver Lake Preserve. Photo by Jacob Mandell.

Every year, WTA works with community partners to involve youth in volunteer trail maintenance. This spring, our youth program worked with over 15 organizations to bring hundreds of kids, tweens and teens out for at least one day of serviceOver the past few months, WTA has been honored to partner with such a diverse range of schools and youth groups across the state.

Community partners help 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.

Aside from increasing youth participation in the outdoors, these community partners foster an understanding of WTA trail maintenance programs within their organization. They create a positive culture of service and deepen the appreciation for nature among their youth members.

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Youth Programs Assistant and chief Youth Crew Leader, Jacob Mandell, has had a jam packed season working with over 15 schools and youth groups. Photo by Youth Ambassador, Jacob Zikan.

WTA's community partners also help to expose youth to their first experience of hiking and trails systems, potentially launching them to a lifetime of trail stewardship.

Chris Sommarstrom, an 8th grade math teacher from Licton Springs K-8 School in Seattle, has been bringing his class out year after year to volunteer with WTA on trail.

“Each year, WTA has provided my 8th grade students a hands on experience in a local park. The 8th grade students volunteer on WTA-led trailwork parties and use WTA-lent gear. WTA's crew leaders teach them the skills needed to establish and maintain trails with fun and encouragement. This partnership helps me to reach my teaching goal of enlarging each student's world view.”

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Pete Dewell, a longtime WTA volunteer and Assistant Crew Leader, is in regular attendance at youth work parties. Photo by Jacob Mandell.

Thank you to our Youth ACL’s

These partnerships would not be possible without the hard-work and dedication from our team of incredible Assistant Crew Leaders. These individuals volunteer their time to teach youth groups about the basics of trail maintenance, while ensuring safety and fun all around. 

Jacob Mandell, WTA's Youth Programs Assistant, has had the opportunity to lead hundreds of local Washington youth, and work closely with dozens of dedicated Assistant Crew Leaders.

"I love working with youth on the trail because it gives them a chance to interact with their environment in a physical way. They get to help preserve, maintain, and create trails which gives them a connection to the land and a sense of self accomplishment. Leading safe and successful work parties for youth ages 10-18 can be challenging, having committed assistant crew leaders like Micki Kedzierski and Darrel Dochow has been crucial for the program this past spring!"

Get involved

If you work with youth and would like to learn more about group work party opportunities, please contact our Youth Programs Manager, Clarissa Allen, at clarissa@wta.org.