Green Teens is one of the nation’s few paid urban forestry vocational skills training programs. The program provides low-income, at-risk San Francisco youth ages 14-19 with a dynamic work experience that prepares them for the “green” jobs market.
Participants gain practical experience in tree care, planting, and landscaping. A typical work day might include pruning trees at a school, mulching a sidewalk garden, or planting trees at a community greening event. They learn more about the environment with field trips to places such as the San Francisco Botanical Garden, California Academy of Sciences, Recology, and the San Francisco Public Utility Commission’s wastewater treatment plant.
The Green Teens are also trained in long-term employability and life skills. Participants attend workshops on resume/cover letter writing, interviewing, financial literacy, and nutrition. Throughout the program, the youth meet professionals in the field, such as certified arborists and landscapers.
During the school year we hold two sessions of Green Teens, meeting every Saturday for 12 weeks and one evening per month. We hold one summer session from mid-July through mid-August, meeting Tuesdays through Saturdays.
Participants may earn performance-based promotions. Additionally, youth who have successfully completed one session of Green Teens may apply to join Green Teens II, which is an advanced team of participants who are motivated to further their skills and become crew leaders. Youth in this position earn a higher rate of pay and have more responsibility.
Program partners that provide training include Whole Foods, Wells Fargo, Recology, Outward Bound, and Literacy for Environmental Justice. Other program partners include Jewish Vocational Services, Hunters Point Family, Instituto Familiar de la Raza, Boys and Girls Club of San Francisco, and high schools throughout San Francisco.
More than 600 youth have benefited from the program since it started as the Youth Tree Care program in 1995.