Youth Volunteers Tire of Green Grunt Work


Photo: NIOSH via Flickr

It is the youth who seem to be the most interested in the green movement, probably because they have the most at stake. If environmental conditions degenerate to the point of no return, young people are going to have to deal with the overpopulated, flooded and hungry world of the future. Lots of folks are working to prevent this Beyond-The-Thunderdome sort of scenario from playing out, especially those aforementioned youth.

However, when these green-spirited youngsters sign up for some conservation-themed volunteer work, they are quickly handed a shovel, some gloves and maybe a bucket and told to dig holes and/or pick up garbage from the roadside. Some of these youthful helpers felt they were being punished when assigned such distasteful tasks. We're Dissatisfied! We're Green! We're Young!
The youngsters become discouraged by these labors, unable to find any point of relevance between litter-lifting, hole-digging and muck-removing and their expected future careers and may not choose to volunteer again.

(I’d imagine that young people are given those manual-labor positions because they are younger and fitter. It’s like when you go to a family reunion when you’re 18 and you’re expected to carry everyone’s bags for them. Then people wonder why you don’t like family reunions. )

Those Unorganized Environmental Scientists
The problem, according to the Economic and Social Research Council, is that those folks who organize conservation projects are usually environmental scientists who have little experience with group organizing.

Dr. Michael Leyshon, project leader:

Environmental conservation is largely organised by people with a background in environmental science, but no training in youth work and youth workers have no training in conservation. The result is that young people and the environment both lose out. We need more coordination in the voluntary sector and an effective interface with youth services.

How to Organize the Green Young Folks
The report states that if these conservation projects were to be managed properly, it would provide the youths with an opportunity to live and work locally. It could also keep the young people in the rural areas. 100,000 leave rural England a year.

In addition, the report adds, these conservation projects would better serve the volunteers if they taught job and team-building skills as well as the environmental science behind the conservation projects.

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Tags: Communities | Education | United Kingdom

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