The inaugural group of Green Guard stewards hailed from around the globe. Throughout our pilot program at East High School, we met students originally from countries including Nepal, Rwanda, Kenya, and Cuba. Along with some Kansas City natives, the group with a wide range of life experiences and personal values all contributed their time and energy to improving and protecting the woodland on their school campus. This is a perfect example of the power of connecting people to nature. This program puts Heartland Conservation Alliance’s mission into action. Stewards protect natural resources, connect with nature, and understand the importance of doing both. Green Guard creates stewards who can work in green jobs in their community and beyond. The stewardship efforts not only benefit individual stewards but it also allows the stewards to transfer their skills and passion to friends and family. The Green Guard program is now expanding to the Marlborough and Blue Valley neighborhoods thanks to a Neighborhood Opportunity Grant from the Community Capital Fund. However, we need your support to get us to the full award. Please help us reach our $2,200 goal. Donations of $15, $50, or any other amount are all needed. Funds raised will provide $50 stipends to stewards who participate in at least 75% of the classes offered. Green Guard empowers Kansas City’s underserved communities to actively care for and utilize natural areas where they live while gaining environmental literacy and performing direct service in their community. Classes are taught by HCA partners who are professionals in the field and cover topics including habitat and wildlife, land use, native and invasive species, and water quality. The lesson on where drinking water comes from seemed to have had a large impact in particular. In the end-of-program survey, one participant stated that she learned "we basically drink other people's pee" and another learned "how to make good water from bad water." This program reaches a diverse group that is not usually engaged in environmental stewardship. Each Green Guard steward adopts their neighborhood site and commits to serve as a steward for one year. Stewards work with HCA’s Partnership Coordinator to develop a plan for their site visits, commit to implementing their site management plan, and document the details of their site visits by uploading pictures and observations on HCA’s website. Stewards gain environmental literacy, environmental and professional job skills, and stewardship experience while directly serving their community and caring for natural areas and trails. Green Guard connects participating stewards with the resources and training they need to make effective change in their communities and care for the natural environment.