Interning with Elevate Youth: My First Week

When I started college in 2016, I knew I wanted to get involved in the community I would be living in for the next four years. Throughout the past three years, I have tried my best to accomplish this goal and have discovered a number of wonderful and fulfilling ways to serve in Boston and its surrounding suburbs. However, working with adults and youth alike, I have always found that there is one specific and very important thing missing from every agency or organization I’ve been with; the opportunity for the community served to connect with the natural world around them. I have always believed in the importance of spending time outdoors, and have personally found time in nature to be a pleasant escape from day-to-day life. I often wondered why everyone wasn’t being given the same opportunities to experience the beauty of our natural world.

Hearing about Elevate Youth and their mission to empower Boston youth through outdoor experiences, I couldn’t help but be immediately drawn to the organization that had what I had always felt other programs and agencies lacked. Elevate Youth is unique in that it not only provides its participating youth with mentors and guidance, but also with access to outdoor experiences they may otherwise not have. This summer, I am so excited to have the opportunity to work with a nonprofit that accomplishes, what I have felt like, is a goal often forgotten; providing individuals with outdoor connection to the spaces in their community. Helping out with the behind the scenes work, while also attending some outdoor programming, I’m looking forward to learning more about the nonprofit world and getting to experience nature with Boston youth.

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This past week I had my first look at an outdoor adventure when I went with Nick Chertavian, lead instructor at Elevate Youth, to scout out a potential new hiking trail. Exploring the trails in the Mass Audubon's Boston Nature Center and Wildlife Sanctuary, I began to see the mission of Elevate Youth coming alive. While it was just the two of us exploring the area, Nick explained what would be done if a group of participants were to come on an outing to these trails. He pointed out places where the kids could sit for a lesson on marshlands, and took pictures of the unlikely natural beauty tucked in the neighborhoods of Mattapan.

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While the trails were not far from the city, it felt like a new world in the nature center. Quiet and still, it was the perfect place to escape the city while only being a short drive from it. Nick and I concluded our exploration, both of us deciding it was a convenient location to find sanctuary in nature, perfect for a potential after school excursion for the Boston youth that come on our trips. As we drove away from the quiet of the nature center and back into the clamorous intersections of the city, Nick and I discussed the importance of taking youth into nature. We agreed that by bringing youth, or anyone for that matter, into nature you are allowing them the chance to connect to the natural world around them, and maybe for the first time igniting a passion for the protection and preservation of that space. But even more than that, you are helping them find an escape in the beautiful and natural world belonging to all.

by Kate Lietz, Elevate Youth Summer Intern

Annie Hayes