The Healthy Trees, Healthy Cities Initiative provides a paid summer field experience in major U.S. cities for college students to assess urban tree health and gain access to pre-professional opportunities in urban conservation through the Conservancy’s conservation career ladder.
Last summer marked the internship’s second year, with groups in both New York City and Philadelphia. Interns were given the opportunity to meet professional and volunteer conservationists and cultivate leadership skills for personal and professional development. In addition to being in the field, interns worked in pairs on leadership development projects focusing on an urban conservation issue of their choosing which they presented at the end of the eight weeks. A number of the HTHC interns come from the LEAF (Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future) high school program, where they had the opportunity to complete a one-month intensive field internship on Conservancy preserves around the country. The HTHC internship built upon the conservation field work skills earned during the high school program.
Thanks to support from Lowe’s and Marriott International, HTHC interns were able to assess 3,750 trees in NYC and 2,700 trees in Philadelphia this summer!
Philadelphia Leadership Projects in 2015
Jeff and Jamie
Jeff and Jamie took a vacant lot and transformed it from a barren concrete area to an amazing urban green-space – at least on paper. For now, they created a master plan for what the space could become! The project concentrated on the ideals of companion planting, permaculture, as well as creating a diverse ecosystem in order to sustain the prosperity of humans, wildlife, and plant species. Their goal was to demonstrate that diverse ecosystems within the urban environment are achievable.
Maddy and Sarah
Maddy and Sarah created “Treevia,” a conservation-based trivia game aimed to provide a fun and interactive mode of learning. Their hope is to implement it in social venues such as beer gardens, community hang-outs, and eventually expand to schools and other events. Ultimately, they hope that Treevia can open up the opportunity for people of all ages to learn, teach, and to start the much needed conversation on conservation.
Alicia and Leslie
For Alicia and Leslie, field work not only included collecting baseline data on street trees, but also taking note of the social interactions that inevitably happened as they measured street trees outside of people's homes. Their project consisted of developing (1) a social interaction datasheet and (2) a prototype of an in-person survey questionnaire. Both contained questions designed to understand the associations that people make with street trees so that TNC and partners can plan to plant trees in areas where the residents are receptive to the idea. In places where people have negative opinions, the surveys can be used to understand why this is so and design outreach and education strategies around those responses.
Alex and Kate
Alex and Katie investigated the economic benefits of green infrastructure throughout the neighborhoods of Philadelphia. They focused on first, identifying which neighborhoods could benefit the most from adding additional green infrastructure, and then made a pamphlet about these benefits that could be handed out to educate the public of the economic value.