Rain garden

In Washington, D.C., environmental action often means lobbying legislators. But for hundreds of local teens and young adults, it means getting outside and getting their hands dirty.

Each summer, the city’s Green Zone Environmental Program hires local youth and teaches them about climate change, renewable energy, and stormwater pollution.

Then participants work with nonprofits and businesses on projects ranging from solar installations to water quality testing.

For example, some participants have connected local residents with information about stormwater solutions that can help them cope with increasingly extreme weather, such as rain gardens that reduce the volume of stormwater runoff, rain barrels, and native plant landscaping.

Environmental protection specialist Emily Rice says other participants help install these features, remove invasive species, or clean up litter.

“So they’re seeing their impacts on the watersheds from a hands-on perspective,” she says, “and some of them are really excited about it.”

Rice says participants leave the program with a sense of satisfaction and the skills to become part of the next generation of environmental leaders.

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Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.