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Monday, August 15, 2022

Urban Wilderness WORKS Offers Mountain Top Work Experience For Underserved Young Adults In The Pacific Northwest

Jourdan Keith
Jourdan Keith

Imagine, building your resume, gaining work experience and earning the references you need for a job, scholarship or college application while falling asleep in a tent as you count the shooting stars, or seeing mountains from the outdoor dinner table at the edge of a lake, or learning to see life from a different point of view while!

Wilderness Works, the leadership development program of Urban Wilderness WORKS is registering qualified teens and young adults for its 17-day outdoor work training program for 18-25 years old. Teens and young adults who attended Franklin, Cleveland, Garfield, Rainier Beach and Renton high schools are strongly encouraged to apply for the extended overnight camping and trail maintenance trip in Washington’s beautiful North Cascades National Park. The trip departs from Seattle, August 26 and returns September 12. The leadership development training includes 12- days of trail work and a 4-day backpacking and arts workshop. Graduates receive a $250-$300 education award upon successful completion of the training as well as opportunities for additional training and employment.

Tough economic times and steep competition for work requires the leadership training needed to increase your qualifications for employment. Urban Wilderness WORKS is committed to removing the economic and social barriers to environmental work and has been doing so for ten years. As an organization led by people of color and designed to meet the cultural needs of ethnically diverse groups including the young LGBTQ community.

“We believe it is critical for youth to have the opportunity to experience spending as many as 17 days in the magnificent National and State Parks of Washington,” said founder Board President, Jourdan Keith. “We offer Green and Blue career pathways in skilled professions which eventually pay a lot more than green collar jobs.”

The 17-day trip is an in road to working in the National Parks, other federal agencies and organizations seeking racially diverse youth to lead their programs.

“It takes time to discover yourself and then you need time to be that new person before returning to the same old ways of doing things. It gives teens and young adults a chance to succeed and to overcome the odds,” reports Keith.

Staying in the city can be educational, but living in the mountains is life changing. Urban Wilderness provides the food, the gear, the tents, sleeping bags and the education award to keep programs accessible for everyone. Teens and young adults bring a positive attitude and a willingness to be open to new things.

Upon successful completion of the work and educational training graduates will become eligible for work opportunities with Urban Wilderness which focuses on hiring past participants. Additional investment in leadership training includes First Aid/CPR, wilderness medicine and enrollment in a NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) course also provided with full scholarships for recommended graduates.

One of many examples is Lela, a graduate from the 17-day Wilderness Works course agrees who became a paid intern and a youth leader on other trips.

“If I had a word to describe my experience it would be life changing,” said Lela. “Over the summer I worked with people with various backgrounds and got to learn a lot about them, got to know them and myself throughout the course of this project.”

Lela’s work during the winter and spring was recruiting. She helped to get her peers to enjoy one-day outdoor adventures to Mt. Saint Helens and Padilla Bay.

During the interview process to go on the trip youth are asked how they will prepare, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually for the challenge of being away from home, living and working outdoors and being with new people. As Lela reflects on the past year she says, “I was one of those people who had no clue what mentally prepared was. I knew I was physically prepared to do a lot of things. But even though I told my peers I was mentally able to do this I didn’t believe it.

All that does not matter if your mind state is not in a place where you can concentrate and say ‘hey I can do this I can get through this. This is what I’m dealing with and I WILL endure this.’ But I didn’t even start to believe that until a week and a half into the trip.”

Urban Wilderness will host two informational and recruiting sessions: July 22 and July 26 from 10:30 to 12:30 at the Rainier Beach Public Library, 9125 Rainier Avenue S. in Seattle.

For more information or to sign-up for the leadership training program contact Jourdan Keith at (206) 579-5848 or visit their website at www.urbanwildernessproject.org

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