Groundwork Denver Green Corps to Work in Rocky Mountain Arsenal

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The Groundwork Denver Green Team will be awarded funding to do conservation and restoration work in the Rocky Mountain Arsenal on Thursday May 22nd! We’re very excited about this opportunity, the following information is activities and expected outcomes of the grant, check it out!

The Groundwork Denver Green Corps Conservation Career Ladder program provides a unique opportunity for low-income urban youth to learn about, gain skills in, and work directly in conservation jobs on public lands, including the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge and the Pike National Forest. Having worked with this population for years, Groundwork Denver developed this program to specifically overcome the barriers to conservation careers for low-income urban youth. Our conservation career ladder activities include:

 

  1. Introduction to conservation work in the safe environment of urban natural areas:  Many urban youth are not comfortable in the natural world. We have found that recruiting youth from our urban core to work directly in the Colorado mountains or prairies does not lead to success for the youth or the program partners. To help the youth build the skills and confidence for this work, we start their training in urban parks and natural areas where they can learn about invasive species, plant native trees and develop and teamwork and leadership close to home and familiar territory. This activity – which entails 4 weeks of work for 8 hours per week for 9 youth age 18-25 plus one youth leader – achieves the outcomes of youth training and education, incentives and jobs.
  2. Introduction to public lands conservation work at the nearby National Wildlife Refuge: The next step in our conservation career ladder is work at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, which is only ten miles from Denver’s urban core. The RM Arsenal is a 15,000 acre refuge of short-grass prairie, wetland and woodland habitat. It is a sanctuary for more than 330 species including deer, bison, coyote, bald eagles, prairie dogs and burrowing owls. At the RM Arsenal, the youth get experience in a variety of habitat restoration while experiencing a large natural area, but still within sight of their familiar urban environment. This activity – which entails 4 weeks of work for 22 hours per week for 9 youth age 18-25 plus one youth leader (per year for 2014 and 2015) – achieves the outcomes of riparian restoration, removal of invasives, BMP fencing improvements, improved management practices, and native seed harvesting, incentives and jobs created. The activities are directed by the FWS staff to as part of the prairie restoration plan.
  3. Public lands conservation in the Pike National Forest: After four weeks of work at the RM Arsenal, the youth are prepared for work in the “big” Colorado environment at the Pike National Forest. The previous four weeks prepares them for this work by building their “soft” skills (teamwork, communication, leadership), their “hard” skills (invasives removal, trail building, tool use and safety), and their comfort level with being outdoors, near wildlife, and away from the urban environment. This activity – which entails 2 weeks of work for 30 hours per week for 9 youth age 18-22 plus one youth leader (per year for 2014 and 2015) – achieves the outcomes of restoration and erosion control in burn areas, riparian area improvements, trail improvements, incentives and jobs.
  4. Career exploration and conservation education : At each step of the ladder, youth will learn about conservation topics and conservation careers from public land professionals, including managers, biologists, maintenance technicians, and rangers. These activities will be built into each project by working with our project leaders from the Forest Service and FWS. This achieves the outcomes of career exploration and education.
  5. Peer mentoring: An important component of our program is peer mentoring. The trained urban Green Corps youth, age 18-25, share their public lands conservation experiences with our Green Team youth, age 14-17. These younger trainees spend their summer job working in the urban environment on community and natural projects. They will spend at least 32 hours at the RM Arsenal and Pike National Forest working with the Green Corps. This provides an opportunity for the Green Corps members to share their newly developed expertise with younger students from their urban neighborhoods and it serves as feeder program for the Green Corps. Many youth start the career ladder on the 14-17 year old team and then move up to the Green Corps. This achieves the outcome of youth training and education, incentives and jobs created.
  6. Community Engagement: The final step of the process is to allow the Green Corps members to engage their own communities in their work. The youth will lead two volunteer days at the RM Arsenal, inviting their friends and family and the broader community to learn about public lands, conservation and this important natural resource. This provides the Green Corps youth with the opportunity to share the skills and knowledge they have gained over the course of their training experience with the broader community. The volunteers will contribute an additional 200 hours of service to the conservation efforts at the RM Arsenal. This achieves the outcomes of riparian restoration, removal of invasives, BMP fencing improvements, improved management practices, and native seed harvesting, youth training and education, and incentives and jobs created.
Outcome Goal
1. Riparian Restoration 4 miles restored
2. Removal of Invasives 160 acres restored
3. Fencing Improvements 5 miles of fencing improved
4. Seed Harvesting 10 pounds of native seeds harvested
5. Burn Area Erosion Control 10 acres of burned area stabilized
6. Volunteer Participation 100 volunteers
7. Economic Benefits – Jobs Created 18 youth jobs (age 18-25), each with 160 hours of paid work; 2 youth leader jobs, each with 160 hours of paid work; 16 youth jobs (age 15-17), each with 32 hours of paid work; 2 youth leader jobs, each with 32 hours of paid work).
8. Incentives $46,000 paid in salaries to youth and youth leaders
9. Youth Training and Education 32 hours of training for each youth in the urban environment to prepare the youth for working on public lands
10. Career Exploration Youth explore five career paths working with public land staff.

Stay tuned for more updates on this grant throughout the week!