Giving Back

Green-thumbed Detroit high school students clean up parks and make positive change in the city

Detroit Conservation Leadership Corp Group Photo On Belle Isle

This summer 80 Detroit high school students tried out their green thumbs doing vital environmental projects that will preserve public lands, improve access to Detroit parks and make a positive change in the city.

The projects include native planting, new trail development and maintenance, outdoor classroom construction, invasive species removal, acreage expansion, and general operations and maintenance in Rouge Park, Belle Isle Park, Eliza Howell Park, Brightmoor, D-Town Farm and Singing Tree Farm.

It’s all part of the Detroit Conservation Leadership Corps (CLC), a summer jobs program created and sponsored by Johnson Controls in collaboration with the Student Conservation Association and The Greening of Detroit. The CLC is also considered a “job-readiness” program and the students are paid wages for their work and are expected to perform.

“This summer I’m looking forward to gaining a new sense of pride for my community and the city of Detroit as a whole,” said Michaela Covington, a 17-year-old CLC and Student Conservation Association member. “It’s clear that positive change is continuing in our city and I am proud to be part of it.”

Michaela was selected from selected from more than 550 applicants vying for one of the 80 spots available. Selection was based on the successful completion of a three-step, two-month tryout process. Student candidates were assessed on work ethic, leadership ability, civic engagement and commitment to the environment.

Lashawn Green, a high school senior, is in her second year with CLC. When asked what she had to do to get involved she explained, “I filled out an application on-line, had to create a resume… it was really professional. I also had to submit tree plans, attend an orientation and parent meetings and undergo an interview. I did a lot of things to get this job.”

When asked what her plans are post-graduation, without hesitation she said, “forestry” … something she never considered before the CLC.

The CLC is also a learn-from-each-other program. On August 1, Johnson Controls employees spent time alongside the students as they worked at several Detroit-area locations and participated in activities that included planting, developing and maintaining trails and removing invasive plant species.

On August 10, the students participated in a professional development day hosted by Johnson Controls’ Automotive Experience Business in Plymouth. Here they learned the importance of sustainability, energy efficiency and renewable resources in automotive interior design and engineering, building efficiency and hybrid battery technology.

Funding for this program is largely provided by Johnson Controls. “The CLC is one of Johnson Controls main philanthropic efforts globally,” says Jennifer Mattes, director of global public affairs. “Detroit is one of the more significant communities that we our program in with 80 students.”

Cheers to a public-private partnership that not only beautifies our community, but fosters our future leaders as well.

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