Trees are an extremely valuable resource, but who is going to take care of them in the future? A deep appreciation for and enjoyment of trees cultivates a desire and sense of duty to protect them. Many children love to climb trees, but few give them a second thought when it becomes time to decide what to be when they grow up. The Youth Engagement in Arboriculture program (YEA) helps secure the prospects of urban forests as it seeks to inspire young people to learn more about trees and even pursue careers caring for them. YEA provides unique opportunities for kids to learn by doing in a setting not commonly offered elsewhere, while striving to diversify the field by intentionally serving underrepresented groups and communities of color.
The Department of Forest Resources at the University of Minnesota implemented YEA in 2016 to educate youth anywhere from elementary school to high school about arboriculture and urban forestry. Funding is provided by grants from the Minnesota Turf & Grounds Foundation, the Minnesota Society of Arboriculture, the USDA Forest Service, and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. In 2018, YEA programs received volunteer support from local tree care professionals, hosting arborists from City of Saint Paul, Four Seasons Tree Care, Jubert Tree Care, Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, Northeast Tree, Rainbow Tree Care, SavATree, and Vineland Tree Care.
A major highlight of YEA is tree climbing field trips and camps. Both on the ground and high in the treetops, youth are engaged in thrilling experiences that improve their knowledge and their physical abilities. Each workshop provides opportunities for kids to climb trees like professional arborists. While undertaking fun and rewarding challenges, they learn about proper safety and communication, as well as about academic and career paths that involve trees and tree care. All events maintain full compliance with the Standard for Safety Requirements for Arboricultural Operations (ANSI Z133) and coordinate with ISA Certified Arborists® to ensure that safety and expertise are prioritized. YEA shines through its accessibility; there is no basic degree of skill or fitness necessary to participate in any activity. Kids of all levels have equal opportunities to have fun and learn. A variety of techniques are taught, which also gives participants a chance to discover their personal strengths. In addition to climbing events, YEA has hosted field trips on a myriad of topics, such as remote sensing, dendrology, nursery production systems, and tree propagation.
Many young people have never heard of urban forestry or its plethora of benefits before coming to a YEA event, but through their participation they receive a new perspective of natural resources and exhilarating memories that they will bring into their futures.
Program Director: Monica Randazzo
Contact: [email protected]