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LEADERS-IN-TRAINING Summer 2011

Leaders-in-Training youth all packed up and ready to go on their first camping trip of the season.

2011

Program Outcome Report

"I learned that being a leader isn't the same as being a boss, and that if we use teamwork we can do amazing things... I felt happy, adventurous and energetic." - 2011 Leader-in-Training


I. PROGRAM SUMMARY Solar Youth’s Leaders-in-Training program (LIT) creates intensive opportunities for urban youth ages 1214 to develop their leadership skills through engagement in environmental exploration and community service. The primary goal of Leaders-in-Training is to prepare youth, by the time they enter high school, to be committed, competent Solar Youth interns, who either co-lead groups of younger children as Youth Educators in Solar Youth’s Steward Teams and Citycology programs; or conduct sustainable urban forestry and landscaping projects as Green Jobs Apprentices. Leaders-in-Training is a core program of Solar Youth’s “Cycle of Stewardship,” a menu of programs that allows youth to build on their experiences, maintain relationships, progressively gain more leadership skills, become positive change agents in their environments, and then serve as role models for younger children. Leaders-in-Training supports youth who are transitioning out of programs for our middle cohort of youth (9-13 year olds) and interested in paid internships as Green Jobs Apprentices and Youth Educators when they enter high school. Leaders-in-Training, like all programs, follows Solar Youth’s unique program model: Kids Explore! Kids Do! Kids Teach! Following this model, youth investigate the local ecology of their community (Kids Explore!), identify environmental issues that affect the health of people and the natural environment, and seek solutions through a process of problem-solving and youth led action (Kids Do!), then teach what they have learned and accomplished to others through public education projects (Kids Teach!). Since this program began in 2009, we have chosen a different theme for each season. During Summer 2011, the program’s theme was Long Island Sound watersheds. Long Island Sound and its watershed are in great need of stewardship by people who reside in urban areas. The rivers of New Haven that flow into Long Island Sound are spoiled by both outside agents (illegal dumpers, polluting industries, etc.) and local agents (litter from individuals, non-point source pollution from oil changes, lawn care, etc.). There is a particular need for greater and more diverse representation from the low income urban community in the stewardship, oversight and decision-making that determines the health of the urban environment since there is a dearth of environmental education programming in the communities, and environmental issues are often not viewed as having relevance in the urban context. Only through education and outreach can a larger constituency of citizens become empowered to fight for change – from both local and outside agents of pollution. Leaders-in-Training is offered as part of Solar Youth’s Summer Camp, which is open, free of charge, to youth throughout New Haven. Along with their camp welcome letter, those youth who had been in Solar Youth previously and were entering 7th-9th grade received an invitation to apply to Leaders-inTraining. During a phone interview, they were asked about their interest in the program, their past Solar Youth, Inc. - Page 7


leadership moments, their view on teamwork, and their enthusiasm about the outdoors. During Summer 2011, 14 youth interviewed for the position, 7 were accepted early, and 4 more were accepted after a group interview on the first day, on the basis of enthusiasm, teamwork and participation. Leaders-in-Training was held at the end of each session of Steward Teams. Curriculum included 20 halfhour leadership development training sessions during which the youth reflected on their own and each other's leadership, teamwork, and communication that day; 10 40-minute watershed-based learning sessions in which a variety of topics were explored, including an introduction to watersheds, the New Haven Watershed, Connecticut watersheds, wetlands, water pollution, point source and non-point source pollution, water cycle, water conservation, and food chain/web, erosion; and 4 45-minute teambuilding sessions were held, wherein the youth had to put their communication, teamwork and leadership skills to work by helping their Steward Team through a physical challenge. These sessions were on top of the 24 6-hour days of Summer Stewards Teams, during which 45 youth, including LIT participants, explored local ecology and implemented C-SAPs and PEPs via the Kids Explore! Kids Do! Kids Teach! program model. The expected outcomes for Leaders-in-Training are: 1) A demonstrated development of, at minimum, nine of the Search Institute's 40 Developmental Assets (the building blocks of positive youth development, the possession of which has shown to have significant effect on youth's ability to resist negative influences and achieve success in adult life). The Developmental Assets we will measure are within the categories of 'constructive use of time,' 'empowerment,' 'commitment to learning,' 'positive values,' and 'social competencies.' 2) A demonstrated increase in environmental knowledge and commitment to environmental stewardship. 3) A demonstrated development of both hard and soft outdoor leadership skills, adapted from Outdoor Leadership Training of the Youth Opportunities Program, a branch of the Appalachian Mountain Club. 4) An ecologically healthier and more environmentally conscious City of New Haven and its environs, as a result of implementation of Community Service Action Projects (C-SAPs) and Public Education Projections (PEPs) by Leaders-in-Training

Teambuilding

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Collecting litter via canoe

Teaching tent set-up

Spreading the word


II. SUMMER 2011 REVIEW Kids Explore! Out-of-Neighborhood Exploration Edgewood Park

Hammonasset Beach State Park

Lighthouse Point Park West Haven Beach Overnight Camping Trips in West Rock Ridge State Park, Sleeping Giant State Park, and Devil’s Hopyard State Park

East Rock Park

Exploration Description

Youth saw the convergence zone of the West River and the Wintergreen Brook. We hiked through Edgewood Park where youth learned about the importance of wetlands. Youth learned about the different types of sea weed found in Long Island Sound, such as sea lettuce and Irish moss; about Invasive species such as the green crab and the Asian shoe crab, including how to identify the difference between the male and female; and how salt marshes are being destroyed and what we can do to protect them. Youth learned about the inter-tidal zone, and kayaked in the harbor on Long Island Sound. The youth biked along the LIS, learning safe biking techniques and the importance of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide we produce. Before each trip, the youth learned different aspects of camping (setting up tents, tarps, or bear bags) in small teams of 3-4. During the trips, each team was responsible for setting up their part. In addition, the youth took turns in pairs acting as leaders of the trip, involved in making, explaining and evaluating real decision about the trip. Afterwards, each leader received positive and constructive feedback from the group. The entire Summer Steward Teams program was invited on the final camping trip, and the LIT members split again into small groups and taught the other campers how to set up tents, tarps or bear bags. Youth canoed along the Mill River and hike some trails, learning about the importance of East Rock as a stop-over habitat.

Kids Do! LIT members planned, led the other 30 Steward Team campers in, and evaluated a C-SAP. The problem they identified was litter in the rivers that eventually flow into Long Island Sound. The solution they chose to address the issue was picking up litter as they canoed the Mill River. The camp was split into three groups, with LIT participants leading each group. The New Haven Park Department brought us out on canoes, one group at a time, and youth removed any trash they could find. The other two groups hiked along the trails next to the river, picking up trash as they went. In total, we collected 4 large trashbags of litter. In addition, the youth participated in the C-SAPs of two other groups of campers. For one, the problem was loss of habitat, so youth made birdhouses to be hung in a nearby park. For the other C-SAP, the problem was wasting water; youth conducted a “talking campaign” at Lighthouse Point Park to educate the public about the issue and how they can conserve water.

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Kids Teach! LIT members made posters illustrating their C-SAP and talked to over 30 people on the New Haven Green in the midst of downtown about what they can do to help. That night, the youth presented a movie which they wrote, directed, acted in, and edited to a crowd of 100+ campers, family members and friends at Solar Youth’s end-of-season Public Education Forum, which highlighted (in a humorous way) the problem of littering. The LIT members also helped present skits and songs from the season that related to the CT watershed.

Kids Explore! Hiking to their first campsite

Kids Teach! Talking to the mayor about keeping the Sound clean

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Kids Do! Showing off their bags of picked-up litter


III. OUTCOMES Solar Youth’s Evaluation Process Solar Youth measures its programs with a combination of evaluation tools, including Pre/Post surveys, Portfolios (evidence and examples of youth community service and public education work), Youth Feedback Forms, Family Feedback Forms, and Community Feedback Forms. The feedback forms are based on best-practice evaluation tools developed by the Search Institute. Our pre/post survey, which measures ecological literacy, aligns with Connecticut State standards for science learning. We are in the process of developing additional evaluation tools that will allow us to track development of individual youth over time.

Feedback from Participating Youth a nd Parents CATEGORY

% OF PARTICIPATING YOUTH WHO AGREED (out of 8)

% OF PARENTS WHO AGREED (out of 7)

75%

71%

75%

57%

88%

100%

100%

85%

100%

85%

75%

85%

50%

85%

63%

71%

88%

100%

88%

85%

88%

100%

100%

100%

Youth Development Outcomes Empowerment  

Because of Solar Youth, the community values Solar Youth participants Because of Solar Youth, participant is given useful roles in the community

Commitment to Learning  

Because of Solar Youth, participant is actively engaged in learning. Because of Solar Youth, participant is motivated to do well in school

Positive Values  

Because of Solar Youth, participant places a high value on helping others Because of Solar Youth, participant is more accountable for his/her actions

Social Competencies  

Because of Solar Youth, participant is more sensitive to the feelings of others Because of Solar Youth, participant has learned to be a better friend

Environmental Outcomes  

Because of Solar Youth, participant’s knowledge about the environment improve Because of Solar Youth, participants is more responsible about the effect he/she has on the environment

Quality Assurance  

I would recommend Solar Youth to my friends/other parents I would like to (see my child) attend Solar Youth in the future

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360 Evaluation Results At the end of the season, all of our LIT members were evaluated by their fellow members, the high school interns, and the adult staff. This serves as a way to help them discover their areas of strength and area for improvement, and identify those youth who are ready to transition into full-time interns. Each youth was rated on Solar Youth’s core values (Interdependence, Kindness, Excellence, Stewardship and Fun) as well as leadership, positive contribution and recommendation for a “promotion” to internship. Four of our 11 youth were recommended by their peers, interns and staff for such a promotion. One of those four was old enough to apply for our fall internship, and he was hired. On his first day of leading the fall Citycology program, he absolutely shined.

A graduating LIT member leading other youth during the following season’s intern staff training

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Pre/Post Survey Results As part of Leaders-in-Training, participants took a survey before and at the conclusion of the Summer. Surveys consisted of 8 questions that were intended to gauge participant knowledge of ecological concepts, primarily of watersheds, estuaries and issues related to the health and conservation of Long Island Sound. Of the 10 LIT members who took both the Pre and Post surveys, 9 showed a significant (>10%) increase in knowledge.

Quotes and Testimonials Because of Solar Youth… "I stopped littering" "I grew stronger in speech." "I have become a young adult." "I learned to be a better leader." What was your favorite part of summer camp? “Camping!” (over half of LIT youth responded this way) From the parents: “[My son] has made more friends and has 2 sustained friendships over the past 2 years since joining Solar Youth." “[My son] talks to his friends and family about saving and protecting the environment…He wants to grow up to be an environmental scientist…[This program] will help them become leaders.”

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IV. ENROLLMENT/DEMOGRAPHIC DATA TOTAL

11

Total Enrollment

11

Female

36%

Male

64%

African-American

91%

Latino

9%

Caucasian

0%

Other

0%

Solar Youth, Inc. - Page 7

Leaders-in-Training Program Outcome Report, Summer 2011  

Activities and Outcomes of Solar Youth's Leaders-in-Training program from Summer 2011

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