Detroit Teens Gain Green Jobs Skills, Improve Parks

With both high unemployment statistics and a whole lot of green thinking going on these days, Detroit is looking for ways to give its youth green job skills that will provide an edge in securing employment. Toward that end, Detroit-area powerhouse employer Johnson Controls has teamed up with the Student Conservation Association and The Greening of Detroit on a summer environmental jobs program for local youth, now in its fifth year.

The program, known as the Conservation Leadership Corps (CLC), was designed to promote environmental conservation and the development of professional leadership and job skills, while students complete fundamental environmental projects in local community parks and farms.

Detroit -- Student Conservation Association

image via Student Conservation Association

This summer, 80 students will work with 17 crew leaders to improve ecosystems and facilities in Detroit’s Rouge Park, Belle Isle Park, Eliza Howell Park, Brightmoor neighborhood, D-Town Farm and Singing Tree Farm. Student crews will complete projects involving native planting, new trail development and maintenance, outdoor classroom construction, invasive plant species removal, acreage expansion, and general operations and maintenance. They also will receive job-readiness skills instruction, including help with resume writing, interview skills and personal finance management.

Over the course of this six-week program, Johnson Controls employees will get their hands dirty in the course of joining the student crews in their park projects. In a corresponding fashion, students will also get a chance to clean up, don office garb, and join Johnson Controls employees for a professional development day – hosted by the company’s Automotive Experience business in Plymouth, Mich. – where they will learn about the importance of sustainability, energy efficiency and renewable resources in the fields of automotive interior design and engineering, building efficiency and hybrid battery technology.

Student participants in the CLC this year were selected from more than 550 applicants based on their successful completion of a three-step, two-month tryout process. Over the course of that tryout process, candidates were assessed on their work ethic, leadership ability, civic engagement and commitment to the environment. More information on the program is available online.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.