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President's Letter: Youth Programs Build Up Tomorrow’s Environmental Leaders

President Preckwinkle speaks to 2019 Forest Preserve Experience graduates

For many youth, having a summer job is a rite of passage. Summer jobs help kids in high school join the workforce and learn transferrable skills like time management, accountability, teamwork and more. The Forest Preserves of Cook County offer numerous ways for youth to learn these skills. Two programs include the Forest Preserve Experience and Youth Outdoor Ambassadors.

Thanks to a partnership between the Forest Preserves, the Housing Authority of Cook County (HACC), Friends of the Forest Preserves and Forest Preserve Foundation, the Forest Preserve Experience offers a five-week, paid summer internship that introduces high school-aged residents from the HACC’s Housing Choice Voucher and Public Housing programs to work throughout the Forest Preserves.

During the summer, crew members work on conservation and restoration projects, and time is also devoted to learning about the local environment. Crew members have opportunities to participate in environmental enrichment activities, too.

The Youth Outdoor Ambassador (YOA) program prepares youth ages 16 through 20 to become the next generation of advocates, stewards and conservationists for the Forest Preserves. YOA participants help with land conservation and restoration, event planning and more.

Forest Preserves youth program participants not only learn invaluable job skills and about potential career paths related to the environment, they also learn the importance of caring for our natural lands. The future of the Forest Preserves depends on young people who become informed, enthusiastic advocates for nature and the local environment.

We hope to see you in the Preserves!

Toni Preckwinkle, President

Forest Preserves of Cook County