The Summit and Everest High School youth who came to Hidden Villa this past month were surprised by what goes into running a small-scale nonprofit farm and wilderness preserve. They showed up here in their finest summer fashions with a concrete list of things they would and wouldn't do only to quickly realize that the shorts and Air Jordan’s they wore might have been a bad choice for a dirty day mulling the farm. This example is just one kind of experiential learning that is a key part of Youth Development programs. We provide the space within the program for youth to experience and make the choices that work best for them. I cherish these transitions and am grateful we have such an awe-inspiring vehicle to facilitate this kind of growth within the youth.
The opportunity to work with any group for a month is rare for Youth Development, however through our program "Forest to Farm to Food" we are able to work with Summit and Everest schools for a two month period called an intercession. This is one of the most rewarding times for us as youth workers because it enables us to solidify our relationships and commitment to empowering their own growth and goals. The proof is the relationships that survive long past their time here on the farm. One example is Julian who has been with Hidden Villa since he was seven, growing through our residential summer camp program, and coming to the intercessions here at Hidden Villa for the past two years. This year as a junior he was unable to participate in the intercession due to his involvement in SAT prep classes but founds ways to navigate around this hurdle by coming in the afternoons to volunteer with the CSA and Animal Husbandry crew. He is a leader among his peers and it showed when he worked with this year’s intersession crew on chores demonstrating his knowledge of the farm and animals. He told me Hidden Villa gave him the confidence to work alone on chores and feel comfortable teaching others.
This is the type of connection that defines Hidden Villa; Empowering youth and investing our time in them ripples out to the community and continues the legacy that the Duveneck’s started almost 70 years ago. These are the kind of relationships we are asking for you to invest in that foster confidence and leadership with youth and work towards the goals of a more just and sustainable future. Through your contributions, Youth Development is able to reach youth from a broad range of socioeconomic and racial backgrounds giving them the means to be their own advocates in their schools, communities, and the world around them.
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