A New Initiative That Is Improving Forest Park's Wildlife Corridor and Connecting Area Students to the Green Workforce
This spring, Forest Park Forever is launching the Nature Works Collaborative, a workforce development program that will introduce area high school students to environmental job opportunities while at the same time enabling Forest Park’s Wildlife Corridor to be significantly improved and expanded.
Through generous support from lead program sponsor The Boeing Company, Nature Works was piloted last year and is being introduced to hundreds of students and teachers during these spring months. The program has three central components:
- Our team visits local classrooms for on-site educational sessions.
- Classes visit Forest Park for hands-on field experience facilitated by our team.
- We hire 10 students as Nature Works Summer Youth Corps members, working side by side with our staff to improve and expand the Park’s Wildlife Corridor.
Nature Works is a triple win. The Park’s Wildlife Corridor along the waterway will be restored; local teachers will enrich their curricula; and students — especially those from the St. Louis Public Schools — will gain valuable experience working as a team, build a network that includes environmental professionals and obtain a greater understanding that outdoor work can offer a meaningful career.
The 2014 pilot season was a great success, with the team expanding or introducing 4-plus acres of wildlife habitat and installing 43 native plant species. The two pilot Summer Youth Corps members — Byron Davis and Raheem Woods — look back on the experience with smiles, having learned how to identify trees and plants, how to prune and mulch and how to set goals, develop a management plan and work together to accomplish results that an entire community could see.
“Nature Works is helping me transfer what I’ve learned to the real world,” Byron told us. Raheem added, “I’m doing things I haven’t done or seen before.”
"Forest Park Forever is very grateful to Boeing for the company's support of this meaningful and unique program," said Forest Park Forever President & Executive Director Lesley S. Hoffarth. "Over many years, Boeing and its employees have demonstrated a great appreciation for how essential Forest Park is to St. Louis and how much the Park can improve the lives of its citizens, including students and teachers. The company’s generous support of Nature Works is an exciting new step in our partnership.”
“Nature Works engages and educates St. Louis youth on restoration and conservation of Forest Park, one of St. Louis’ most significant cultural resources," said Jeff Sweet, Manager for Boeing’s Global Corporate Citizenship for the Central Region. "Additionally, the project increases public awareness of the vital role that native plant species and healthy wildlife habitats play in sustaining a high quality of life for all.”