A Summer of Environmental Justice

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This summer, DNDA launched and facilitated a new Environmental Justice Summer Youth Program based at Roxhill Park, which ran from July 5 to August 25. Through this program we engaged with a cohort of youth interns ranging in age from 14 to 16, most of whom were from Seattle Housing Authority’s High Point community in West Seattle.

The program lead was Environmental Education Specialist Emma Weissburg. Emma was assisted on a day-to-day basis by Summer Program Assistant Bilen Yegizaw, Environmental Outreach Specialist Tyler Yeomans, and Environmental Education Coordinator Bri Castilleja, who also developed the initial program.

The youth cohort worked with us every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. At the beginning of the program we facilitated activities that introduced the youth interns to basic themes and topics of environmental justice, and learned wetland ecology with a focus on Roxhill Bog.

During the second week we focused on native plants and food access. This included a guided hike at Schmitz Park where we discussed the different uses native plants have in Coast Salish cultures. We also visited Nurturing Roots Farm in Beacon Hill, where the interns learned more about their organization and the work they do regarding food and environmental justice.

During the third week we focused on environmental policy. We had a guest lecturer from an Environmental Law Firm come and speak to the interns about her work on local policies. We also visited the Muckleshoot tribe, where the interns learned more from their cultural and fisheries departments and toured the White River Valley Museum.

For the last week in July, we focused on forest ecology. The interns got to participate in a variety of forest monitoring techniques, including surveying some of the trees at Roxhill Park. During this week we also discussed different land management practices and how they shape people’s relationships with the land.

Starting the first week of August, the interns took what they learned so far and began selecting the independent projects that they worked on throughout the second half of the program. On August 25th, DNDA hosted a final celebration event, where the interns presented about their projects and shared about their overall experiences in the program.

Thanks to all the staff, community members and especially youth interns involved in making the 2022 Environmental Justice Summer Youth Program such a success!