Greenwich Youth Conservation Program Marks Its 45th Summer

This year marks the 45th summer for the Greenwich Youth Conservation Program, a unique public-private program that offers young Greenwich teens a summer job opportunity conserving the

town’s green spaces. The “GYCP” is managed by the Town Parks and Human Services departments, and all of the funds that cover the teens’ stipends are donated by Greenwich families, local businesses and sponsors. A special event to mark the GYCP’s 45th anniversary will be held at Tod’s Point on July 11 and will include participants, sponsors, the GYCP advisory board and Town representatives.

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The GYCP started as a small pilot project in 1978 when a volunteer for the Greenwich Department of Social Services, the late Anne Egbert, identified a need for an “earn and learn” program for young teens. As a family therapist and music teacher, Egbert understood that while 14- and 15-year-olds are too young for employment at many venues, they are capable and would benefit from finding purpose in the summer. Since 1978, the program has expanded exponentially. For each of the past 10 summers, the GYCP has provided 112 local teens with a first-job experience, and more than 3,600 teens have participated since the program’s founding.

In addition to helping teens flourish in the summer, the GYCP contributes significantly to the Town’s conservation work in our parks and nature preserves. The GYCP planted 100 trees throughout Greenwich last year alone.

A stint with the GYCP is highly sought after by teens. It is typical to have more than 100 teens placed on the wait list. Teens come from all town neighborhoods and from public and private middle and high schools. Most teens learn about GYCP from their school guidance counselor. All applicants are interviewed before participants are selected. “The learning starts when the teens fill out their applications and have their interviews and continues as they work with their supervisors and a diverse set of peers,” says Program Administrator Christina Nappi. Afternoons also include skills training on topics such as resume writing, budgeting and teen decision-making, plus talks with conservation specialists. As Maya Weiss, a summer 2022 participant explained, “I’m learning a lot of leadership and teamwork skills. A lot of people think this is just gardening, but it takes a lot more.

“Teens who find summer work reap both immediate benefits and skills they can use for future employment,” Mrs. Nappi says. “And we all enjoy a more beautiful Greenwich because of their hard work.” For more information, please contact Program Administrator Christina Nappi at [email protected] or (203) 622-7792.

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GYCP teens work in the clambake area of the Greenwich Point. Photo: Kathy Mintchev