This summer I have had the opportunity to work with the greatest, funniest, silliest, and most difficult group of teenagers through a local non profit – Mill Village Farms. Here is what a day in the life of a crew leader looks like…
I like to label myself as the transportation administrator. This means that I have the prestigious responsibility of driving the bus for Mill Village. Every morning and afternoon I transport a group of kids to their assigned locations. The bus’s radio feature is evidently quite popular amongst the kids as the they repeatedly tell me to put on 96.3 The Block. Whereas I comply for the most part, I also feel the need to culture them in the sounds of Luke Bryan, Kenney Chesney, and Tim McGraw. The typical yelling and singing from the backseat always quiets down and I always get a “not this again”.
Upon arrival at the farm, we are assigned with the common task of weeding. This news is always accompanied with the cacophony of moans and groans. In divvying up the work load, I assigned O’nitria to the newly planted watermelon patch. After five minutes of work, I went around to each group to check their progress and assist where I was needed. When I arrived at the watermelon patch I found something very odd. Lying next to a laughing O’nitria was an uprooted watermelon plant. She just shrugged and said “I thought it was a weed”.
I have collected many stories this summer just like those. Stories that reflect the goofiness and immaturity of young teens and stories that reflect their mere adolescence and impressionability. I have had my fair share of laughs and teaching moments with these kids and I have learned a lot about agriculture, leadership and patience. However, what this summer has ultimately taught me is that the phrase “the future is in your hands” is extremely accurate. These kids and the rest of their generation are the future and the way that older generations choose to educate them will make the biggest difference.
Think back to O’nitria and the watermelon story. If I had just educated her more on the best methods to weed pulling in the watermelon patch, we wouldn’t have a dead watermelon plant (although at the stake of a good laugh). In educating on sustainability, we must have the same mindset. If we educate teenagers now, they will be more likely to make more impactful decisions in the future. In doing this, I personally believe leading by example and illustrating the dangers of maintaining status quo is most effective. By showing youth the most sustainable ways to serve our community we will alter the cycle and ultimately create positive change.