Kicking Off a New Season of Environmental Internships

At the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, we believe that one of the most important requirements in building a culture of stewardship and achieving long-term sustainability of natural resources is educating youth. By helping young people understand the role they play in their local environment, we can empower them to be part of the solution. 

In the 2018-19 season, the Greenway Trust Education Program engaged 4,050 students, 53% of whom were from low-income schools, and dedicated more than 3,800 hours of volunteer student hours on restoration projects. Needless to say, everything turned upside down after that.  

A group of students out in nature looking at something with a teacher as part of an environmental education program field trip. There is a second group of students in the background.

Adapting During the Pandemic 

Despite the challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic, our education team flexed their creativity and found new ways to continue inspiring and empowering young people. We took our Clean Water Ambassadors program virtual for the first time and even won an award for inclusive youth employment alongside our partners at King County Wastewater Treatment Division. We developed new Virtual Education offerings, and launched a new internship program with Highline School District, one of the most diverse school districts in the country.

While we’ve done our best to adapt over the last few years, there’s certainly excitement in the air as we head into a more “normal” summer of environmental education programs in the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area. 

A screenshot of a Youtube video. Screenshot shows the title slide which is "Forest and Fins" written and overlaid on a wood slab and surrounded by plastic examples of the salmon lifecycle.
Forest and Fins virtual education video

Reaching More Youth Through Expanded Internship Offerings 

Internships are a great way to help students build confidence and foundational knowledge needed to choose conservation-related post-secondary education programs and careers. Thanks to the support of our generous donors, corporate partners, and grants, we are so excited to be expanding our internship programs this summer!   

We will continue our Clean Water Ambassadors Internship Program with 12 students enrolled this year. We are also doubling the YESS Program (Youth Engaged in Sustainable Systems), hosting a second year with 16 students from the Highline School District and starting a new partnership with the Riverview School District and 15 of their students. And finally, we will be launching a new two-week internship program called Burien Green Teens with 10 participants.  

Read on to learn more about each of these programs: 

A group of students sitting on a board walk in a circle, looking at a teacher who is showing them something in a science tube, wearing gloves.
Clean Water Ambassadors at Lake Sammamish State Park

Clean Water Ambassadors Internship 

The Greenway Trust partners with King County Wastewater Treatment Division to offer a paid internship experience for a cohort of high school interns to learn about local environmental issues, solutions, and careers focused on clean water in our region. Throughout the program, students gain exposure to careers and skills related to water systems, watershed ecology, sustainability, and climate change. They also learn about environmental and social justice issues by participating in field trips and workshops, honing their public speaking and written communication skills along the way. Near the end of the summer, the interns apply new skills and knowledge to leading a wastewater treatment tour and a volunteer restoration event. Then, during the subsequent school year, they implement projects that engage their peers and communities in helping keep water clean in the Puget Sound region.

Two young adults using tools to remove weeds from an outdoor staircase along a trail.
YESS – Highline students doing trail work at the Middle Fork Campground

Youth Engaged in Sustainable Solutions (YESS) 

The Greenway Trust partners with Pacific Education Institute, Highline School District, and Riverview School District to offer a paid internship experience for two cohorts of high school students to learn about conservation careers while earning a stipend and graduation credit. 

Participants gain experience working as part of a restoration crew alongside professionals from the US Forest Service, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, King County, Burien PaRCS. They explore green careers related to natural resources, conservation, ecological restoration, and land management, and become familiar with Pacific NW plants, including how and why to replace invasive plants with native ones. The Highline School District cohort will also go on two, two-night camping trips! 

Burien Green Teens 

The Greenway Trust is partnering with Burien Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services (PaRCS) and Dirt Corps to pilot a new two-week paid internship focused on restoration at two parks in Burien. Ten young adults who live within the Highline School District will learn valuable job skills and network with environmental professionals while earning a stipend. Additionally, each participant will leave the program with a set of restoration gear and tools. 

Two students crouching side-by-side and looking at a kit for science testing. One is holding a notebook and pencil.
Clean Water Ambassadors at Tiger Mountain

Show Your Support for the Greenway Trust’s Environmental Education Program 

If you think that sounds like A LOT for one summer, you’re right! Keep an eye out for an upcoming blog post spotlighting our small but mighty education team of two: Becca and Lindsay. And, as with all things in the Greenway, these programs would not be possible without our incredible partners.  

Want to help support the future of the Greenway Trust’s Environmental Education Program? Every donation makes a big difference!