Operation Better Block established the Junior Green Corps in 2010 to provide Pittsburgh youth ages 14-18 with structured activities that impact their physical environment, equip them for leadership roles in the community, improve their academic achievement, and provide them with an opportunity to explore green-collar jobs and careers.
From 2016 to 2019 the Junior Green Corp has maintained a variety of lots and worked on various green programs in the Homewood area. During the school year, the group has presented at various events, tested soil samples, maintained tree pits, and cleaned up along the streets. As the weather gets colder they focus on indoor activities that revolve around work readiness, green-related education & workforce, academics, leadership, and mentoring.
During the summer the youth worked more outdoors maintaining over 20 vacant lots including flower gardens maintained by Ms. Mary Savage and their own green spaces like the Junior Green Corp Garden. Our Junior Green Corp garden, Tioga play yard, and Idlewild play yard has been a staple in this program since the beginning and is mainly maintained by the group. Recently we’ve grown over 300 pounds of food and are expanding our growing efforts in upcoming years.
The Junior Green Corp is a job readiness program for teenagers ages 14 to 18yrs old that is run all year round. We employ up to 20 youth (10 boys and 10 girls) during the school year and work with them throughout the summer. Our program is a stipend base which means they are paid based on their participation.
We work four days out of the week during the school year with some weekends added as bonus day and we work five days out of the week during the summer. During the summer, we have a two day out of the state trip that will have one day of learning and one day of fun for all youth to enjoy. After the summer, we update our current curriculum based on projects done throughout the year and give it out to our youth.
For more program details, you can go to our website at obbinc.org/programs/JGC
The Junior Green Corps program is staffed by our Green Initiative Coordinator who is a Horticulture graduate who is an experienced Master Gardener and green youth educator. Working with her is our Projects and Program Coordinator who is experienced in youth program coordinating and youth engagement. They both work together to develop and implement this year-long program while improving it every year.
How to Join
If you’re looking to become a member of the Junior please complete the application below and email it to NaTisha Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To be a member you must me the following criteria:
- Be between the ages of 14 years and 18 years old
- Live in or around the Homewood area (must be able to transport yourself to and from work)
- Have a GPA of 2.5 or above
Currently, we are looking to expand the program to work more with the local green programs and have a more successful harvest on larger lots. We’ve expanded our recruitment to the outside of the Homewood area to approach students in surrounding schools. Also, we’ve been looking to add more hands-on career training to our curriculum