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A message of thanks on behalf of youth and history

In his letter to the editor Will Conklin writes: “Greenagers has worked since 2009 to engage teens and young adults in meaningful work in environmental conservation, sustainable farming, and natural resource management.”

To the Editor:

Getting paid to build a wood shingle roof at Hancock Shaker Village, constructing trails among historic stone walls at the 1760s Bidwell House Museum, and improving trail access on the grounds of Chesterwood, home and studio of sculptor Daniel Chester French — for a group of Berkshire teens, this was a summer to connect with cultural heritage, learn work skills, and connect with each other.

Greenagers has worked since 2009 to engage teens and young adults in meaningful work in environmental conservation, sustainable farming, and natural resource management through paid employment programs, internships, and apprenticeships. The programs have blossomed, serving over 50 young people and 20 customer sites this past year.

With the help of the folks at the Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area, Greenagers expanded to pilot partnerships with cultural heritage sites in 2016. Teams of teens spent part of the summer improving historic properties — and building connections to their own history.

At the Bidwell House Museum in Monterey, they explored life in a 1760s homestead, while leaving a permanent piece of themselves in the trail bridges they constructed for the next centuries of visitors. They examined the enormous stone chimney foundation with its Roman-style arch, and some were sure they encountered a ghost.

At Chesterwood Greenagers began the restoration of a trail to the ledges that Daniel Chester French hiked each day — restoring access to a unique perspective of the historic property. They were awed by his studio and befriended the resident cat.

At Hancock Shaker Village youth worked with hand tools and traditional materials to repair a shed and rebuild a portion of the stone wall along Route 20. The staff treated our crew to numerous workshops and demonstrations of the Shaker way of life.

This program was a gift to the teen participants as well as to the historic sites. I am grateful to the hosting partners for making this program possible with thoughtful engagement by their staff and by raising the necessary funds. Housatonic Heritage as an umbrella organization is a catalyst for collaboration and making great things happen in our region. I feel fortunate to be working in a community and with partners who understand the vital importance of engaging our young people for the good of all of us. Thank you.

Will Conklin

Housatonic

The writer is executive director of Greenagers.

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