As Parks, Recreation & Community Facilities Teen Workforce participants complete their fourth week of projects across the City of Richmond’s three park districts and trail divisions, the visible results of each team’s work become clearer. The Teen Workforce program, developed to enable young people to practice hands-on work in Richmond parks – from building picnic tables, to painting murals, to renovating garden beds and mulching trees – is modeled on state and national conservation corps style programs designed to introduce young people to parks employment opportunities. Teen Workforce leaders hope that participants will develop a relationship with the parks as they put their mental and physical resources to use to improve Richmond’s green spaces.
In the James River Park System teens addressed graffiti and litter on Belle Isle and worked with JRPS staff on tree mulching, lopping, and limb clean up at the Potterfield Bridge. For many participants, the project marked their first visit to the “T Pott” footbridge and was an exciting chance to get close to Richmond’s rapids.
At Kanawah Plaza Teen Workforce worked with Parks staff to remove invasive weeds and improve flowerbeds at Kanawah Plaza, downtown’s green island. Teens were surprised to know Kanawah Plaza is built above Richmond’s Downtown Expressway, and they enjoyed seeing the fountain begin to cascade each morning.
Teams have been working with PRCF’s Community Gardening Coordinator on several projects. This week they cleaned and replanted flowering planters at Shockoe Bottom’s 17th Street Market. Other teams focused on PRCF’s administrative headquarters conference room, working with Parks painters to apply a new coat of paint to the highly used facility. In Chimborazo Park, Teen Workforce’s trail crew continued an intrepid construction project: a trail connecting Chimborazo Park and Gillies Creek Park by way of a winding contour that wraps lower Chimborazo.
Teen Workforce participants were recruited through the Mayor’s Youth Academy CIT program, which is led by PRCF’s Melanie Ramos. Teens were assigned to locations in their neighborhoods to reduce transportation obstacles and to enable youth to see the impact of their work in their community. Through the Teen Workforce program, youth will build relationships through working in teams, and strengthen their understanding and appreciation of parks and outdoor spaces.
PRCF has taken precautions to ensure that while working teens are adhering to public health guidelines. Teens utilize masks throughout the program, are provided with gloves, personal protective equipment, and individually wrapped breakfast and lunch. Each day when participants check in, temperatures are recorded. Small teams of six members help ensure that the Teen Workforce program remains a safe way for teens to have positive work experiences.
Teen Workforce Goals
- To expand participants’ exposure to Parks related trades and professions
- To provide teens with hands-on experience using a variety of tools and materials, used to enhance their community
- To build teens’ connections to the outdoors in a project-based learning environment
- To develop teens’ interpersonal skills and build confidence in their abilities
Teen Workforce by the numbers
- 4 teams based in 3 PRCF districts, plus 1 trails and greenways team 24 participants, students in Richmond Public High schools
- 5 week conservation corps style program – structure similar to state Youth Conservation Corps and NPS YCC
- Projects located in 28 parks facilities and landscapes throughout Richmond Including 9 picnic tables, ~24 benches, 1 fenced enclosure, 1 mural, and 3 community gardens served with new raised beds and rainwater catchment