This is Cook Fresh Harvest Lead, Yeng Lee reporting on Notes from the Field…! I have worked at Urban Roots as a youth intern for 5 years and have joined the team as a staff leading youth crews for my first season and it is going great. Urban Roots has long been an organization that interns have heard about from a friend of a friend, and if not, from an older sibling. What makes Urban Roots so great and what are we doing to get youth interns to return for another season? Over the years we have seen interns who have started at the age of 14 and grow to leaders by the age of 18, graduate high school and pursue college and career pathways. Despite the number of years the interns have spent at Urban Roots, we try our best to always create new opportunities for our interns to grow.
One way we try to differentiate roles of the interns by experience is through our progressive program model. These are the three levels of experience that are available for interns:
- Seed Crew: First year interns, 8 hours a week
- Grow Crew: Returning Interns (2+ years), 16 hours a week
- Harvest Star: One Selected Returning Intern for each track (3+ years), 22 hours a week
As interns return for another season, they gain more work hours, skills, and opportunities. The Harvest Star position is an advanced opportunity for selected returning interns of three or more years that show great leadership and responsibility. A Harvest Star is chosen for each track in the summer program and are given small projects to work on independently. These projects range from designing gardens to tracking data and creating marketing materials, they also take part in many public speaking events and our Youth Council.
Every year, a small group of returning youth interns are selected to participate in Youth Council, an extended session that occurs once a week to enhance leadership skills and provide opportunities in the fields of cooking, conservation and market gardening. The interns of Youth Council play an important role as youth ambassadors for the organization. Youth council teens are both Grow Crew & Harvest Star members for each track so that all crews are represented in large projects that we share with the community.
An event exclusively led by Youth Council is the Urban Roots Open House held annually in early August. Save the date for this years Open House on August 10th! Past participants of Youth Council all agree that the open house is their favorite project because it allows them to become entrepreneurs by taking ownership of the event and creatively displaying their work at Urban Roots for others to see. As fun as the interns say the event is, planning for a successful open house also allows the interns to challenge themselves by exploring skills outside their comfort zone. Many steps are taken in preparation for the open house such as creating new activities for others to participate during the open house, making promo materials, and personally inviting funders, partners, community members, and families of interns. Planning for the event gives a chance for the interns to learn effective communication skills and learn first hand that pivoting is a part of becoming an entrepreneur.
Although the Urban Roots Open House is a major project that Youth Council organizes and plans for, it is only a fraction of the work that Youth Council does. The Youth Council interns also help plan, organize, and lead program tours that are booked throughout the summer. In preparation for these program tours, the interns participate in various activities to help one another become more comfortable with public speaking and networking. These activities allow the interns to share some of their fun experiences with each other, especially with those in another crew, to see the non-profit organization for what it really is so that they can tell their Urban Roots story with clarity and confidence.
We will be booking tours if you are interested in checking our Urban Roots. The Youth Council will be leading tours Tuesdays in August between 2:30-4pm. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info or to book your tour today!