By Ethan Duran
Last Friday, inner-city students met with environmental organizations and explored internship and job opportunities at the Youth Green Jobs Summit, an event hosted by Cream City Conservation at the Wisconsin Black Historical Museum.
Cream City Conservation is an enterprise involved in diversity and consulting for environmental organizations.
Organizations like the Milwaukee Riverkeeper and the Urban Ecology Center presented green job opportunities involved in land stewardship, outreach and management to high school students from Rufus King, Bradley Tech and Escuela Verde.
After networking with guest organizations, the students enjoyed live spoken word presentations on environmental injustice in Milwaukee and participated in a raffle.
The floor of the Wisconsin Black Historical Museum was clustered with different stands showing off animal furs, insect specimens and models of Milwaukee’s ecosystem. Reflo had put up a simulated watershed using a sandbox and a smart projector. Attendees could put their hand in front of the light and simulate rain entering the water table.
Representatives from the organizations stamped fake passports that the students walked through with after talking to them about job opportunities.
August Ball, the CEO of Cream City Conservation, said that her hope with this year’s Summit is to build awareness among young people in Milwaukee by showing them how they can get involved in local environmental industry. Ball also wanted the environmental industry to see people of color interested in these career paths that they might not otherwise have access to.
August Ball gives two reasons on why this is important. “There’s a lot of myths around the engagement of people of color in the environmental industry,” she said. “There’s a huge assumption that people of color don’t care about the environment. The research shows that’s not actually true.”
Ball’s second reason is that people of color are disproportionately affected by environmental injustice. Since people of color bear the burden of Milwaukee’s environmental problems, it is important that they have a say in how these problems are solved.
“If we’re ever going to solve huge environmental problems, we have to have those who have frontline experience to help create solutions,” Ball said.
At the end of the day, one lucky student won a pair of custom-painted Timberland boots in the raffle. Runner-ups won gear from Cream City Conservation and other groups.