As a youth development organization, LAYC values practices that protect the environment and programs that cultivate young people as stewards of our planet. That is why, we have taken steps to boost our organization’s sustainability, reduce our carbon footprint, educate staff and youth about environmental issues, and build job training programs in conservation.

Sustainable Practices

Reusable DishwareTo meet our energy saving and carbon emissions goals, LAYC’s DC site has motion-activated lights in restrooms, low-flow faucets and toilets, and solar panels on the rooftop. Our new kitchen features energy-efficient appliances and is stocked with reusable plates and cups for serving after-school snacks. All offices have separate bins for trash and recycling, and every floor features “Think Green” signs around printers, light switches, and water fountains.

Green Jobs Training

Green is not just right for the planet, but is also a growing industry with good paying jobs.

In Maryland, our Montgomery County Conservation Corps provides opportunities for out-of-school youth ages 17–24 to participate in a variety of team-based environmental rehabilitation and habitat restoration projects. In DC, our River Corps engages youth 18–24 in storm water management and environmental restoration related to watershed protection and the conservation of native ecosystems. Participants in these programs may also concurrently earn their GED, and all gain safety certifications, such as OSHA and CPR/First Aid.

Connecting Youth to Nature

The natural world presents a unique setting for teaching arts, science, math, and history, and to develop leadership and problem solving skills.

Our 2nd Nature program takes youth out of the classroom and into the region’s national parks to explore the natural world with art and media through a partnership with the National Park Service of the National Capital Region. Students explore current and future community environmental issues, enabling them to make informed decisions about those issues. As a final project, youth produce a 1-minute video PSA targeted to their peers. In 2011, our 2nd Nature program received the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Partners in Conservation Award.

LAYC’s Food and Nutrition program engages youth in healthy eating and cooking projects, including cooking healthy meals with ingredients from our vegetable garden. The program teaches youth how to grow food in a city, the economics of growing our own food, and what grows each season.