Greenwich Youth Conservation Program Gives 60 Teens a Safe Summer Job during Pandemic

Even a pandemic couldn’t keep the Greenwich Youth Conservation Program (GYCP) from successfully completing its 42nd summer of “Teens Working for a Greener Greenwich.”

Every summer since 1978, GYCP has brought together a diverse group of local 14- and 15-year-olds from neighborhoods throughout Greenwich to experience a first job as they enhance town parks and beaches. GYCP is a public-private “learn and earn” program organized by the Greenwich Departments of Human Services and Parks and Recreation. It gives young teens a summer job — complete with supervisors, co-workers, skills training – while they beautify our town.

The COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing guidelines made planning this year’s program a little more challenging than usual, however, participants were up to the task. “The teens did a great job with safety protocols and social distancing,” said GYCP Program Director, Christina Nappi. Participants were divided into small groups and wore masks to
ensure their safety. “Even under the circumstances, the teens came up with creative ways to interact and have fun,” Ms. Nappi added. Participants worked in parks throughout Greenwich, including Binney Park, Bruce Park, Byram Beach Park, Cos Cob Park and Pemberwick Park.

After conservation projects were completed in the afternoons, local organizations including Family Centers, the Greenwich Police Department School Resource Officer program, Kids in Crisis and the YWCA provided job and life skills training via a virtual speaker series. A favorite session was a mock job interview game. As one teen described, “It was fun. I learned a lot
about the other teens in my group, and I also learned that I have to work on making more eye contact when being interviewed.”

Support from local sponsors and donors made it possible for each teen to receive a modest but meaningful stipend for their work. “We’re especially grateful to our loyal sponsors and donors for continuing to support GYCP during this challenging time,” said Kimberly Terrenoire, chair of Friends of GYCP. “Their ongoing commitment to our town’s young people is inspiring.”

“GYCP is extremely important to the community and for the kids,” said Darrin Wigglesworth of the Town Parks and Trees Division. “I am grateful that we all worked together to deliver a well-rounded program and help our youths see that we can adapt to the current crisis.”

As one participant said, “I was so happy to be able to participate in GYCP this summer. Since the pandemic, I have spent too many hours indoors, and it was nice to be outside in the fresh air working with other teens to help Greenwich.”