Teaching young volunteers about environmental stewardship

KIRKLAND, Wash. — The Tilth Alliance is giving students the training and resources to build a more sustainable planet.

“My generation more than other generations in the past, is focused a lot on climate change,” said Sarah Adams, a student at Juanita High School.

For youth volunteer Sarah Adams, investing in a greener future is a priority for her generation.

“It’s definitely a very present thing for us, various climate crises,” said Adams.

A goal to minimize the negative impact on earth by slowing down the effects of climate change is what attracts youth volunteers to the Tilth Alliance community learning gardens.

“Coming here and really getting in touch with the earth and the agriculture gets you more invested in stuff like that so you can help change in other regards,” said Adams.

By using a holistic garden design, volunteers at the McAuliffe Park in Kirkland are able to understand the benefits of creating a harmonious space in nature.

“They are already very aware of all the issues the society and planet is facing, and so I want to empower them with small actions they can do in their life at home, educate others around them,” said Anita Waghani.

Tilth Alliance Community Education Coordinator Anita Waghani gives youth volunteers the tools to mitigate climate change issues with hands-on experience.

“I think especially at an early age, it’s good to take action because you can keep learning about it your whole life and teach other people about it, and it will just help our environment in the future,” said Aneesh Harwalker, a student at Inner Lake High School.

Youth volunteer Aneesh Harwalker was drawn to this program because he supports a climate friendly agriculture system that will be beneficial for years to come.

“Learning gardening can help you have healthier habits, and prevent emitting carbon emissions in the air all that stuff from factories, so I think that’s just a great skill,” said Harwalker.

The volunteers are not only learning about sustainable gardening practices, they are also learning how to harvest products that can be used for medicinal tea and skincare products.

“In the garden, they help volunteer and help grow fruits, berries, herbs, veggies and then we donate it all to Hopelink, which is just down the street in the food bank,” said Waghani.

An investment in their community and their future is what drives these young minds to learn about healthy soil, environmental restoration, naturally manage pests and protect water quality.

“Natural disasters and heat waves and all that stuff puts it in perspective in what the environment can really do for people, because I know people don’t really want to be involved in all these natural disasters, so having a way to prevent that or slow it down maybe,” said Harwalker.

A focus to support a natural ecosystem that will fight loss of plant and animal species. Ultimately, helping to preserve the earth we rely so heavily on.

“We are also teaching them compost for healthy soil, also have a rain garden to help with rainwater harvesting and quality and conservation ideas are something we educate the volunteers on,” said Waghani.

Showing a strong connection to nature is the foundation for each volunteer, hoping to create a better ecosystem for plants, animals and humans.

“It’s gotten me super super invested so even if I don’t choose agriculture, like this as a career path, it will definitely be something I keep doing as a side hobby, maybe even starting a bigger garden,” said Adams.

Envisioning a greener future, one plant at a time.

For information on Tilth Alliance visit: http://www.tilthalliance.org