Youth Unplug for a Summer of Service

By Outreach and Education Manager, Rachel Calderara

Another July has come and gone, and with it, another Green Team program has ended, but not before 26 amazing teens put in over 700 hours of volunteer work on the protected lands of Southeastern Massachusetts.

Green Team 1 crew members get their hands dirty at Bay End Farm.

What is Green Team?

2019 marks the fifth year of Green Team, a keystone program in Wildlands’ Youth Unplugged Initiative. Green Team is an interactive opportunity for teens to engage in environmental learning through volunteerism. After applying to the program in the spring, each applicant goes through a thorough interview process in hopes of being offered a spot on the team. Only those who have proven their interest and motivation to work hard in the outdoors with their peers are accepted onto Green Team. This year, we accepted 13 middle school-aged crew members into the 1 week Green Team 1 program, and another 13 high school-aged crew members into the 2 week Green Team 2 program.

What does Green Team do?

Each day, the Green Team travels to various sites across the region to work on relevant, hands-on environmental projects with professionals in the field. This year was one for the books with more crew members, more hours, and more projects than ever before!

Green Team 1 Projects:

  • Trail clearing at Mass Audubon’s Great Neck Wildlife Sanctuary (Wareham)

  • Invasive species removal in the pastures at Soule Homestead (Middleborough)

  • Organic vegetable farming at Bay End Farm (Bourne)

  • Restoring the community garden pathways at Wildlands Trust’s headquarters (Plymouth)

Green Team 2 Projects:

  • Farm animal husbandry at Soule Homestead (Middleborough)

  • Organic farming and greenhouse restoration at Round the Bend Farm (South Dartmouth)

  • Trail maintenance at Northeast Wilderness Trust’s Muddy Pond Preserve (Kingston)

  • Picnic table and bench building for trails at Wildlands Trust’s Emery Preserve (Plymouth)

  • Blueberry harvesting and pruning at Cornish Fields Farm (Plymouth)

  • Garlic harvesting and processing at Bay End Farm (Bourne)

The service days are sprinkled with educational activities like tick safety talks, birding walks, farm tours, meditation, yoga and more. On the final night of Green Team 2, we take the team on an overnight campout where they enjoy dinner, a night hike, and a campfire.

Green Team 2 after harvesting garlic at Bay End Farm.

What’s next for Youth Unplugged?

Three weeks of Green Team are a whirlwind for staff and crew members alike, leaving us all thoroughly exhausted yet still wishing for more time together. These ambitious teens will not rest and we are left feeling like there is more we can do to keep encouraging their interest in the outdoors. This nagging feeling, along with numerous requests from the crew for continued volunteer opportunities, prompted us to pilot a new program we’re calling Service Learning Saturdays. Once a month, all Green Team alumni are invited to our Plymouth headquarters to work on projects ranging from invasive species removal to gardening and more. During the first Service Learning Saturday on August 24, four crew members helped us pull out overgrown invasive vegetation at both the barn foundation and the old oak tree.

The teens we have the pleasure of working with are intelligent, kind, caring young people who give us hope for the future. We thank them for another wonderful year of Green Team, and look forward to Service Learning Saturdays this fall!

Follow us on Facebook for Service Learning Saturday pictures and updates at: