to Youth Empowerment in Berkshire County
Written by Dee Robbins for a Mass Service Alliance newsletter.
member, Mike Leavitt, splits his full-time position between two hosting
organizations in Berkshire County, the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC -www.outdoors.org)
and Greenagers (http://greenagers.org/
Mike’s service activities are multi-purpose, combining goals of
community building, environmental stewardship, and youth empowerment.
Mike engages local high school students in a
variety of activities, from helping families build front yard vegetable gardens
to removing invasive species from public parks.
Many of the youth volunteering with Mike do trail
|Mike's AMC Teen Trail Crew|
AMC’s teen trail crews work along the Appalachian Trail or on state park trails
With the help of MassLIFT-AmeriCorps, AMC has been expanding its
relations with other non-profit organizations in Berkshire County and
connecting with trails on land conserved by local land trusts.
This summer, the youth on Mike’s two teen crews
will provide both the Becket Land Trust (www.becketlandtrust.org
) and the Monterey Preservation Land
Trust with 400 volunteer hours of building and maintaining trails.
If you ask
Mike, he will tell you that leading these teen trail crews has been the “pinnacle”
of his AmeriCorps year. Over their week
of service, these young people “deal with sleeping in tents, not showering, the
rain, the bugs, the heat and a lot of dirt.
By the end of the week, the vast majority of them have made several
close friends and go home with smiles on their faces. The amount of growth that a youth can go
through in a week is unbelievable and helping make that happen is a great
able to provide some of that volunteer labor to a local volunteer run land
trust just makes it even better. It
allows some much needed work to be done on some of the best conservation areas
in southern Berkshire County while asking very little from the land trusts
themselves which are usually over extended already. The collaboration between the AMC Teen Trail
Crews and the local land trusts is one where everyone involved gets a lot out
of it and will hopefully continue over the coming years.”
Photo by Max Crystal