Milwaukee teens spend summer helping clean up county parks

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CUDAHY — This summer, dozens of Milwaukee teens are heading outdoors to lend a hand. They’re helping clean up Milwaukee parks as part of the Johnson Controls Milwaukee Conservation Leadership Corps.

“Giving back and making everyone feel good to run on the tracks is a beautiful feeling because I know I`m helping them and I don`t even know them. It`s just a beautiful feeling,” Ryan Carter said.

The program is year-round and based in environmental conservation for 15 to 19 year olds living in the city of Milwaukee.

“The goal is to get students who live in the city to contribute to their natural environment — to become land stewards,” August-Marie Wagner-Richardson, who helps manage the program said.

The program has been around for the past seven years. This summer, 55 students are working on an array of projects in more than a dozen parks.

“Building compost bins, widening trails, fixing trails that are eroded and removing invasive plants,” Wagner-Richardson said.

The Milwaukee Conservation Leadership Corps works closely with the Milwaukee County Parks Department to determine what areas need the most work. The program’s primary funder is Johnson Controls.

“Being able to do new projects but also maintain existing projects, we would not be able to do it without them,” Guy Smith with the Milwaukee County Parks Department said.

Along with learning the importance of respecting nature, the students also learn a lot about themselves.

“Really instilling character-building qualities as far as learning how to resolve conflict and positive identity and self-awareness,” Crew Leader Giovanti Melton said.

As the students work to better their community, many of them believe they are also bettering themselves.

There are year-round employment opportunities with the Milwaukee Conservation Leadership Corps. CLICK HERE for additional information.