Teens Inc, a Nederland organization with the aim of empowering and educating youth is in annual collaboration with the Wildfire Partners Wildfire Mitigation Program of Boulder County for community service driven by youth leadership. The collective efforts of the organizations are making Boulder County homes less vulnerable to fire damage this summer.
“Our goal at Wildfire Partners is to engage the teens in their local community,” said Mary Sanders, the director of the partnership program.
The partnership has been a success in the several years that it has existed and this summer was no different.
“The Teens Inc. crews helped us work with 10 Boulder County residents in need this summer,” Sanders said.
The crews provide aid to people that are unable, for physical or financial reasons, to get their wildfire mitigation completed themselves. The work of the crews includes the installation of noncombustible zones and removal of fire-fueling materials from around homes.
“By assisting these residences we've allowed homeowners to keep their home insurance, got some homeowners Wildfire Partners certified and brought neighbors and communities in the Wildfire Partners Program together,” Sanders said.
The program also allows Boulder County youth from ages 14 to 20 to practice leadership in their community. Every member is able to lead within their group through leading activities, tracking water intake or sunscreen reapplication as well as other roles. The junior crew leads of each team have hands-on responsibilities that guide the projects.
“Some of the things they lead are organizing daily roles, project implementation, and communicating with the program partner, which is an outside organization that they usually have never worked with,” Sanders said.
The crews have achieved a level of work that is high quality and efficient.
“Every time we went to a homeowner these crews always went above and beyond with their work. I started the summer working with one resident per week, but by the end of the summer I had to schedule two per week because they were so fast at getting the work done,” Sanders said.
Sanders could not choose just one story to express the appreciation that is a part of this work.
“At every one of the homes that Teens Inc. has worked at I can say with confidence that the homeowner had always expressed profound gratitude for their work. I can't say how many homeowners were literally brought to tears at the relief and gratitude that they felt for this work,” Sanders said.
The program prepares teen members for future opportunities in trail crews or wildfire mitigation crews.
“These jobs also set teens up for jobs in environmental stewardship, team-oriented jobs or jobs that require previous leadership experience,” Sanders said. Altogether, the partnership allows teens to develop leadership skills that will last them a lifetime.
For more information about this program, email Mary Sanders at [email protected]