Green and Grow apprentices find transformative experiences in the mountains

22, Feb, 2010 Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Ellen Lempereur, Education Program Coordinator for the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway Conservancy.

As we discovered back in December, our Green and Grow apprentices have become experts in pruning, leaf terminology and tree physiology. Recently they also proved to be adept winter hikers and trackers, able to sniff out and follow the lead of a red fox.  Our seven Green and Grow apprentices bundled up and hit the mountains instead of the books this past January.  Between excursions to the Blue Hills and the White Mountains, they felt the wonder of the winter land, and their experiences were nothing short of transformative.  As I told the Conservancy staff, a scheduled 20 minute debrief on day two of our three-day excursion to the White Mountains extended to 2 hours of reflection. They talked about how much they appreciated the opportunity to connect with the outdoors and with each other – away from the stresses of their neighborhoods – and about how they can bring the sense of peace they feel in nature back to their communities to make a real difference.

We often think of measuring success in terms of the knowledge and hard skills our apprentices learn – pruning, edging, deadheading, public speaking, presenting, interacting with-co-workers, reducing their carbon footprints, etc. – but what is harder to capture is also meaningful: the values such as ecological awareness, community, respect for nature, active and responsible citizenship.  The success of the Green and Grow program in cultivating these values necessary for contributing to a better and more sustainable world is captured in some of these reflections below. These words hold gratitude, pride and inspiration.  The reflections come from a place that is deep, a place from which passions and careers are born.

“The White Mountains trip was the best.  I found something in me I didn’t know was there.  It felt so good to wake up and look at the beautiful mountains.  When we were at the top [of Mt. Willard], I saw something I never thought I would see – it was all the mountains…we were surrounded by them.  It was one of the best moments in my 17 years of living.”   – Malik

“[The White Mountains weekend] may have been one of the best experiences of my life.  I love this job for allowing me to do things I never would be able to do on my own…Coming to places like this excites me because I feel so close and in tune with nature, and it gives me a better understanding of myself.  It helps me understand who I am as a person and a being of this world, a world we (including the birds, trees, and even snow) share and are a part of.”  – Jayla

“This weekend [in the White Mountains] was amazing.  The whole hiking experience helped me free my mind, and it tested my strength.  I really wish there were more people who would appreciate nature.  The most valuable part of this program are the new experiences available to us…the whole hiking experience was something that I never had an opportunity to do before.  Working on the Greenway is so valuable because we’re taking care of an important space in the city that helps the environment.”  – Rose

“[Being in the Blue Hills was like] being in a sheet of white covering the land, and in that moment of silence, you can feel the peacefulness of the forest…I feel like showing people how I feel about nature.  It is so beautiful and people walk right by it as if it were no big deal…this program is a real important part of my life.  I get out and explore and experience.”  – Estefany

Green and Grow is funded 100% by private contributions. To find out more about sponsoring Green and Grow, contact Susan Appelbaum, Director of Development at 617-603-7727.