Making Connections in the Green Workforce
The latest cohort of the Adult Urban Forestry & Restoration Training Program moves into their internships
Providing pathways into the green workforce is one of the ways we can help create the next generation of responsible stewards working in our urban forests. How do we do that? The first step is exposing people to roles they can have in this line of work, and doing it in an authentic way so that people really understand their options.
The Adult Urban Forestry & Restoration Program recruits adults from community-based partner organizations to engage in an urban forestry curriculum and places them in an internship with Friends of Trees or an affiliated partner organization. The program is designed to engage underrepresented communities and address barriers to participation in the field of urban forestry. In an effort to do so, participants are paid for their time both learning and working throughout the program with the hope of creating pathways to actual jobs
The program just finished its ten-week curriculum, with each module featuring a different guest presenter and topic. Diversity of subject matter is crucial. Some things you would certainly expect, like the benefits trees provide to communities, how to plant and care for a tree, and how to identify native plants. But the curriculum goes beyond that to include things like environmental justice and financial literacy.
“Some of the curriculum on arboriculture can be pretty academic,” says EDI & Workforce Training Manager Rudy Roquemore. “It was important that we combine that with more informal and authentic conversations.”
Even though these sessions were held virtually, Rudy was pleased with the networking that happened among participants and presenters.
“The goal was to expose people to roles they could have in this field, to speak freely to folks in the industry, and start building tangible skills and connections,” Rudy says. “I didn’t realize how powerful the connections would be.”
Now, the participants are starting their internships, with 100 hours to be completed over the next few months.
“All of the participants are interested in continuing on to participate in the internship portion of the program,” says Rudy. “That’s a huge success, and we want to do our part and continue to support them.” The internships will be with Friends of Trees, Verde, Treecology, Honl Tree Care, Portland Parks & Recreation, and Vancouver Urban Forestry.
“We can make trees relevant to people’s lives,” Rudy says, “by addressing and eliminating barriers to the green workforce. There is a lot of opportunity to grow this program and make a real impact.” A new cohort is set to begin in January 2023.