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Tree Care Industry Opens Doors to Youth

The tree care industry has opened doors to the youth to help them discover how important tree care is for the environment. In learning about all of the processes from planting to pruning, the young people may decide to make the tree care industry their profession when they are adults.

What is the Growing Futures Internship?

The Growing Futures internship matches the youth in larger cities with professionals to help tend to the trees lining the streets and in park areas. The kids learn all about tree health, irrigation, fertilization and all other facets of the tree care industry. When young men and women participate in a program that is hands on they may discover their calling for when they are an adult. The tree care industry needs more professionals that love what they do and this program aims to recruit the youth in an area that is lacking enough workers.

The Tree Care Industry is Growing

Most all large cities in the nation see the need for having healthy tree populations in their areas to build and improve green spaces. The benefits from having trees and other greenery reduce the energy consumption, preserve soil and water and also make a habitat for native animals, birds and pollinators that are near the areas.

Municipal leaders are challenged to grow and maintain green spaces and trees because there is a need for more tree care workers each day and fewer people to fill the positions that are so important in conservation. Des Moines, Iowa, was facing this fact when they didn't have enough tree care workers to maintain the tree lined streets of the cities and the green spaces in their parks. Now, the city, the private industry and the youth are all working together to educate tomorrow's tree care professionals on all aspects of planting and maintaining the parks and trees in the city.

Growing Futures: Where Workforce and Community Intersect

Growing futures was formed in Des Moines to connect young people with an interest in tree care in order to better serve the municipal tree care needs. The program teams up the youth with educational teams as well as municipal arborists to help serve all the needs of the city in the tree care area. This program also raises awareness about the career field that has a major shortage of experienced and qualified workers. This program can be a pipeline for future arborists to gain hands on experience in the great world of trees and forestry as it matches workers with companies through exposure to the youth and apprenticeship programs to fit the needs of the cities involved.

Matching Students with the Right Career Path

Growing futures connect students with the right career path in tree care. Students can learn all about the service while also exploring themselves while the program provides opportunities to enter the workforce immediately after graduation or they might find that they want to pursue a two or four year college degree as an arborist. The core qualities that all the students learn are great communication, teamwork and financial literacy skills, all of which can start to form their futures.

Growing Futures has a powerful environmental impact because it gives priority to underserved neighborhoods that lack tree coverage and are in need of dedicated resources. Healthy tress have many benefits, such as creating beauty, saving energy, cleaning the air, reducing storm water and even giving people a feeling of great mental and physical well being as they enjoy the natural sights and sounds of trees and wildlife.

What Do Growing Futures Students Do?

Teams of seven to 10 teenagers plant, water and care for trees in the area. There is a goal set forth to expand into neighboring areas as well, so more cities can reap the many benefits of flora. The teenagers have adult supervision and training so they can learn new skills to be a future leader in their community.

In the spring, summer and fall, the teammates will plant, water and prune trees. They also learn all of the different manners of staking trees and how to mulch them for the best health possible. They help to grow urban forests while they build job experience that can go on their resume in the future. Students improve their professional skills through this program to prepare them for a profession after graduation. If the students apply for a tree care position after graduation, they will likely have a much better chance of getting the job because of all of the skills learned through Growing Futures.

The teammates participate in weekly professional development training to promote their overall professional skill set in many manners. They will learn how to build a great resume that sets them apart from other workers by listing specific skills that they have achieved through the Growing Futures program. They will achieve financial literacy to help them in a job search in the future. Teammates will shadow other professionals in their jobs to learn more about what different professionals actually do at work. They will be encouraged to choose green careers that are good for the environmentally conscious person. Conflict resolution is an important part of the training for students because all types of jobs exist where the personalities of two workers may clash and they need to learn how to solve this problem. All members also learn first aid training, as this is a very important part of tree care when working with machinery and tools. In addition, first aid training shows that the student has taken the initiative to go a step forward and it may open other doors in the tree care industry for them, such as a rescue service alongside EMS for tree care professionals when they are hurt on the job.

The Growing Futures Internship is a unique program that has great potential for students, for cities and parks and it builds character for students to enter the workforce after graduation. 

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