Meet ACCE YouthWorks Group


Workforce Challenge

The Academy for College and Career Exploration met a difficult challenge when their annual 2016 YouthWorks summer jobs greening project was moved to a new location. This summer’s YouthWorkers would have to start over after years of maintaining a well-polished green space. 

Workforce Solution

ACCE hired 10 youth to create this new green space to include rain gardens, vegetable gardens, fruit trees, and beehives. Real Food Farms was kind enough to donate a piece of their land in Lake Clifton Park that ACCE could call its own and the group began work on cultivating the new space.

The first task the YouthWorkers tackled was to create a new garden. They tilled up the grass, weeded the area and built raised beds, this was a grueling feat especially outside in the summer heat, but eventually, they turned the grassy field into farmable land. Because they were already in the middle of growing season, it was too late to plant summer crops and too early to plant fall crops so they compromised and started seeding indoors. The YouthWorkers planted fall crops such as snap peas, green beans, radishes, lettuce, beets and carrots; they waited until the end of the summer to transplant the starters into the outdoor garden.

Their next focus was learning environmental awareness with an introduction to beekeeping class. With a beehive in walking proximity to their garden space, they learned the purpose and technique of hive checks and were taught the lifestyles, roles and importance of bees. Many YouthWorkers were apprehensive about visiting and caring for bees, but this apprehension would soon fade when they began seeing honey, bee activity and signs of the queen. Throughout the summer they continued to perform hive checks and finally noticed full frames of capped honey, they extracted the frames and bottled 100 ounces of raw honey.

The final segment of the summer program exposed the YouthWorkers to occupations related to environmental work. The group took several field trips to environmental friendly locations where they learned geocache searching, ecological footprinting and farm transplanting. They visited Cylburn Arboretum and learned about aquaponics and rain gardens. They also visited Outward Bound and kayaked in open water.

Outcomes & Benefits

The summer experience with YouthWorks helped 10 youth realize the environment is not just important but also fun and hopefully they will consider an environmentally friendly job in the future.


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