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New Program Employs Youth in Conservation Management

By Sarah Benal

The Nature Action Crew spread mulch at MoHives in order to start the process of growing native plants near the apiary. These native plants will create a more resilient environment to improve the health within the Blue River Watershed. Photos by Madeline Putman

Kansas City is home to many natural resources and organizations working together to preserve and protect green spaces for current and future generations to enjoy. And in June, Heartland Conservation Alliance launched the Nature Action Crew with support from the Missouri Department of Conservation, Deep Roots, MO Hives KC and the Full Employment Council. HCA is currently accepting applications from individuals interested in careers in conservation.

The Crew protects, restores and manages natural areas in Blue River Watershed for the benefit of community and wildlife health and vitality. It will increase community awareness, interest and engagement with nature in Kansas City while providing employment in conservation to youth from underrepresented communities.

HCA partnered with Build Trybe, a mentorship community that builds health and independence by empowering youth with employable skills. Students from Build Trybe participated in a series of conservation education workshops to gain knowledge about HCA’s projects and Action Areas before beginning their work with the Nature Action Crew.

The Nature Action Crew will lead and support work at HCA’s action areas and partner projects around Kansas City. One organization they have been offering support is at MO Hives KC, who also recently launched their group of Fellows, young people interested in beekeeping and conservation restoration work.

“I joined the MoHives to try something new and get out of my comfort zone,” said LoRen Hewitt.

The Nature Action Crew will lead workdays focused on invasive honeysuckle removal, trash clean up, and native plant and tree plantings for the rest of 2021. Like the work at MO Hives KC, the workdays will be supported by HCA’s project partners such as Habitat Architects and Native Lands LLC, and neighborhood leaders in Dunbar Farms and Marlbrough. The workdays will also be an opportunity for volunteers to join the Crew to help restore Kansas City’s green spaces. Volunteers will clean up trash, plant native plants and remove invasive honeysuckle to improve the land and promote healthy growth in the areas.

“I joined HCA so I can learn and experience a large variety of things and it's all thanks to Build Trybe that I was given the opportunity to Join HCA full time,” said Cassie Lehman, one of the new Nature Action Crew members.

A lot of work is needed to restore the HCA Action Areas and support partners in their restoration efforts. To do so, the Nature Action Crew continues to grow and HCA is accepting applications for those who want to work on the team. The full time, year-round position will provide the opportunity to serve as part of a professionally supervised team as they explore future outdoor careers, learn practical field skills, and develop confidence as emerging leaders in the field of conservation.

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