The Houston Arboretum is normally a peaceful place filled with the sounds of nature. This week it’s a buzz of activity filled with the sounds of hammers and picks.
That’s because the Green Team is here. The Green Team is a group of local high school students who spend six weeks working for the Student Conservation Association. Steve Hernandez is in his fourth year with the group and serves as a team leader apprentice.
“This is such a great program to participate in for the past four years. I mean, I’ve learned so much and just to have people come up to me and like ‘Hey Steve, how does this work? How do we use this tool so we can effectively do this trail maintenance?’ And I feel glad just knowing the answer to that question because when they know the answer they can do it and then they’ll forever know the answer to any future questions when they continue on with the program.”
That idea of continuing on and knowing how to practice conservation is what this group is all about.
Jamie Ford is the SCA’s Texas Program Manager. She says their goal is to inspire the next generation of conservationists.
“Whether that be someone who goes into the conservation field or goes into banking and is still considered a conservationist because they work towards volunteering or staying with that service to the land ethic that we try to build in. We also try to build leaders. You know these students sometimes stay with us for three, four years, throughout their whole high school program and then become great leaders in that program.”
And Ford says they’ve noticed more interest in the program in recent months, as more teens focus on environmental issues.
Here at the Arboretum, they’re building boardwalks, clearing and restoring trails and uprooting invasive plants. Hernandez says he loves knowing that he has contributed to the health and preservation of Houston’s green space.
“Working in the parks, I just love knowing that I can come to a Houston-oriented park and just know that I can help build a better trail so that people can experience the forest parts and the boardwalks and just notice how beautiful things are here in Houston in such an urban environment.”
This year, students from 15 area schools are on the Green Team. The kids actually get a stipend to work on these projects. The program is sponsored and funded by ExxonMobil.
Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.