Youth Corps

YES Team

CNGF is launching a program that mentors and trains urban youth to reduce their carbon footprint with two interwoven methods: restoring local ecosystems and growing food that protects nature.

California Native Garden Foundation Youth Corps

Young people are looking for a sense of community, hope, and real skills that will enable them to meet the challenges of our era. At California Native Garden Foundation, we are working to meet these needs, here in the city where we live. 

The Youth Corps is united to achieve these goals together. As Greta Thunberg said, “Together and united, we are unstoppable.”

Our new approach to urban land use enables us to:

  • restore clean air;
  • restore and conserve clean water;
  • restore healthy topsoil;
  • produce enough local nutritious food to sustain us;
  • transform & reduce consumer waste while using green waste to produce local energy;
  • reduce transportation needs;
  • use renewable energy while reducing local energy needs;
  • meet our basic needs of survival near where we live;
  • hold larger amounts of carbon in the soil;
  • protect biodiversity; and
  • cool and beautify urban landscapes.

There is not a more efficient way to meet multiple climate crises than to transform cities where most of our life cycle needs can be met.

CNGF’s Youth Corps program will mentor and train urban youth to reduce their carbon footprint with two interwoven methods: restoring local ecosystems and growing food that protects nature.

The real risk is not to take risk. The frightening outcomes are already here. We started transforming urban areas in San Jose 21 years ago. Together with their students, local scientists are collecting data at six of our participating sites across the county that will confirm these actions as significant solutions to multiple climate crises.

But, in order to scale this new approach quickly enough to address the multiple ecological crises we are faced with, large and small landowners in our community must sign on to transform their land. Our trained youth and mentors can be hired to implement their skills at our Build 25 network of EAT•GROW•LEARN Centers.

The purpose of the Build 25 Initiative is to engage major landowners to develop 25 Eat•Grow•Learn Centers by 2025. Each of these Centers will simultaneously grow food to feed nearby residents, restore local ecology, and train youth engaged in our internships, youth corps, and certification programs.

Most of the available land to implement this initiative is currently owned by school districts, colleges and universities, local and county governments, global corporations, faith-based organizations, hospitals, health centers and private development. Through a mapping study, we have validated that the residents of Santa Clara County could meet most of their nutritional requirements by growing food at urban regenerative farms.

We have a plan in motion to educate and train our next generations to carry their skills from one community to another, so they can implement systemic changes, one neighborhood at a time.

Youth Corps member eating with Eritrean members of our Mindful Aging Project (MAP). Members are serving at a traditional Eritrean coffee ceremony. Coffee is native to cloud forests in Eritrea and Kenya.

Youth Corps member teaching TEACHIN Nature curriculum, an outdoor STEAM education program at ELSEE, a certified outdoor classroom

CNGF youth volunteers speaking before Santa Clara City Council to advocate for Agrihood development

Aquaponics cartoon made by Youth Corps volunteer

Y.E.S. Team (Young Eco-literate Speakers)

A subgroup of the CNGF Youth Corps

Youth Corps members at Hester Farm with CNGF mentor and volunteer coordinator, Rachel Warner, already a published scientist!

Youth corps members at Hester Farm with CNGF mentor and volunteer coordinator, Rachel Warner, already a published scientist!

We are inviting youth who would like to participate in becoming advocates and leaders for CNGF’s initiatives, such as Build 25, our SJECCD-WI certifications in seven new job tracks that don’t rely on fossil fuel, or our other community-based programs, such as Earth Heroes Nature Camp, Playing with Intent: Nature Immersion + Food in the certified outdoor classroom for our Pre-K school and teachers, after school STEAM & Nature Camp for 6-12 years, Mindful Aging Project Classes, etc.

CNGF’s leadership and mentoring volunteers will help the Y.E.S. Team champion our work to city and county elected officials, school board members, superintendents and other institutional leaders.