Holyoke Youth Create a Special Community Place

Summer Internships Inspire Holyoke Youth to Care for The Environment

Contact Information

Jocelyn Forbush
413.532.1631 x10

Josh Knox

Photographs available upon request by contacting jforbush@ttor.org.

Holyoke, MA -- Spending an afternoon with the farm interns at Land of Providence is not only an enjoyable experience, but also an educational one. The 25-acre property of fields and forest, donated to The Trustees of Reservations by the Sisters of Providence, lies along the edge of the Connecticut River south of Jones Ferry Road. Part of the land is leased to Nuestras Raices for its agricultural programs.
Three farm interns, Jose “Toli” Gomez, 17, Jose “Bebo” M. Garcia, 18, and Javier Rodriguez, 18, all of Holyoke, are working this summer alongside Neil G. Greene, the Trustees’ Agricultural  Property Manager, to prepare Land of Providence for its public opening this fall.  All three are former members of the Holyoke Youth Conservation Corps, a summer outdoor work program for teens operated by The Trustees of Reservations. The farm interns have been tidying up walking paths, creating spots for enjoying river views, and otherwise maintaining and improving the property.  In Holyoke's urban environment, Land of Providence serves as a green contrast, which Gomez finds relaxing. Rodriguez agrees, “Our vision is to make this nice for people, welcoming, so they come more often.”

The young men are learning about the natural world through their work, with the clearing out of invasive plants being an important part of their daily activities. They have learned about the threat of invasives, how to identify and remove various species. Garcia has taken his experience home and removed some invasive species there, while Rodriguez has helped his mother create a garden in their yard and says he looks forward to maintaining his own yard someday. Meeting new people on the farm and seeing and learning new things has encouraged Gomez to look towards a career which includes travel, and he may apply some of the appreciation for discipline and hard work he has gained at Land of Providence by entering the Air Force. Greene appreciates that the interns are working hard, developing new skills, always maintaining positive attitudes, and he is impressed with their high level of interest in wild things and the natural world.

“There is no challenge we cannot overcome” has been Greene’s philosophy, based on the young men’s dedication to making Land of Providence a place for people to visit and enjoy. Rodriguez says that they “are always ready for anything” and their goal of having the property ready by the end of the summer keeps them working. He feels that one of the benefits of working on the property is that “you meet good people.” The heat, humidity and rain do not seem to bother the interns: Gomez notes that he is used to doing physical activity outdoors in a variety of weather conditions because he plays football and paint ball. On days when severe weather sends the team indoors, they have been helping to design and paint a mural for another Trustees of Reservations site in Holyoke, Dinosaur Footprints. Another rain day was spent at the museums in Springfield. While the learning is not limited to the outdoor world Rodriguez feels that learning about nature is important for all people. He advises younger people to join the Holyoke Youth Conservation Corps because he feels the knowledge they would gain is not only valuable to themselves, but also “to share with their friends and family” as a benefit to the community. Teens in the Youth Corps learn about job skills, conservation, and potential careers in the environmental field, as they work to take care of Trustees properties in the region.

The interns are developing a sense of accomplishment and feel good about contributing to the community. All three young men are looking forward to the day that their families and friends will see all of the improvements that have been made to the property. Garcia is confident that this sense of pride will continue on into the future, “I'll be here in a few years and I'll be able to say, ‘I did this.'”

They are hoping that as people visit and stroll the trails, see the views, and find a place to relax, they will come to know that Land of Providence is a special place that the community can take pride in and enjoy. Garcia, Gomez, Rodriguez and Greene all recognize how unique and extraordinary a beautiful piece of land in the middle of a city really is. They look forward to sharing Land of Providence with the public when the property opens this fall.

About The Trustees in the Pioneer Valley
Since 2001, The Trustees have been building a stronger conservation presence in the Pioneer Valley region with educational and grassroots community outreach programs and the pursuit of significant land conservation opportunities. Currently, The Trustees own and manage 13 spectacular properties in the region. These include Notchview, the Bryant Homestead, Dinosaur Footprints, Chapel Brook, Bear Swamp, Chesterfield Gorge, Petticoat Hill, Glendale Falls, Little Tom Mountain (to open 2012) and Peaked Mountain.  Recent acquisitions which will open to the public in the future include the Bullitt Reservation, Mt. Warner Reservation, and Land of Providence. The Trustees locally operate the Highland Communities Initiative (HCI), a program created to protect the natural and cultural character of 38 rural hilltowns located between the Connecticut and Housatonic Rivers.  To find out more about HCI, visit www.highlandcommunities.org.. For more information on becoming a Trustees member, donor and/or volunteer or to reach The Trustees of Reservations Pioneer Valley regional office, please call 413.532.1631.

More About The Trustees Statewide
The Trustees of Reservations are 100,000 people like you, who love the outdoors and the distinctive charms of New England, and believe in celebrating and protecting them for current and future generations. Founded by open space visionary, Charles Eliot in 1891, The Trustees “hold in trust” and care for special places throughout the Commonwealth called "reservations.”

A member-, donor-, volunteer-, and endowment-supported organization, The Trustees (and its affiliate, Boston Natural Areas Network) own and care for 100 spectacular reservations and 34 community gardens located on 25,000 acres in 73 urban, surburban and rural communities throughout Massachusetts. From working farms and historic homesteads, several of which are National Historic Landmarks, to formal and community gardens, barrier beaches, open meadows, woodland trails, mountain vistas, a Gold LEED-certified green building, and a popular campground, all reservations are open for the public to enjoy and offer something for everyone.

The Trustees offer hundreds of programs and activities throughout the year, most of which are free-of-charge or discounted for members. In addition, The Trustees are a leader in the conservation movement and serve as a model for other land trusts nationally and internationally. Working with communities and conservation partners around the state in addressing important conservation issues and efforts, The Trustees hold conservation restrictions on more than 16,000 acres of privately owned land and have worked with partners around the state to assist in the protection of an additional 16,000 acres.

As land is being developed and open space is being fragmented at a rapid pace around the state, time is running out to save the best of Massachusetts’ landscapes and landmarks. To find out how you can protect a special place in your community, become a partner, request a speaker, and/or become a Trustee through your volunteer, donor, or membership contributions, please call 781.784.0567, visit www.thetrustees.org, or email membership@ttor.org. We are all Trustees.