Banner: "Youth Forest Council" on a green background next to a photo of people planting a tree

Are you inspired by environmental activists?

Do you feel called to make a difference in your own community? 

The City of Austin’s Youth Forest Council is an immersive, yearlong, paid internship connecting young people (ages 16-19) in Austin to careers that support trees and our communities. Youth Forest Council members work with Urban Forest Program professionals to plan community activities and continue to grow their own connection to Austin’s natural spaces. 

The 2022 Youth Forest Council Member Application deadline is Sunday, October 17, 2021.


Members have the opportunity to: 

  • Plan community events and festivals 
  • Design educational materials to be shared with Austinites 
  • Represent the Urban Forest Program in their own neighborhoods
  • Practice leadership by creating and running projects to support their community 
  • Gain valuable, firsthand knowledge about green careers 
  • Take part in professional seminars about urban forestry

Members in the Youth Forest Council earn up to $15 per hour.

"I am very appreciative and fortunate to have been selected for this internship. I learned a lot about Austin, its urban forest, green careers, and learned a lot about myself and my interests in the process. This was a great experience."

--2020 Youth Forest Council member

Photo: Youth Forest Council members participated in an outdoor activity.

 

Who are Youth Forest Council Members?

The Youth Forest Council provides an opportunity for young people to use their unique skills and talents to support our urban forest. Everyone brings something important to the table. While the main focus of the Youth Forest Council is forestry and environmental stewardship, we encourage young people with interests in arts, community organizing, business, and more to apply. 

Youth Forest Council members are: 

  • Curious about our environment and interested in exploring careers related to it
  • Passionate about getting involved in their community
  • Able to attend 1 full council meeting and 1 visiting leader meeting each month
  • Able to work about 10-15 hours per month for a full year (January – December 2022)

There are no academic requirements for participation in the Youth Forest Council. 

The Urban Forest Program seeks to enhance Austin’s quality of life by fostering a healthy urban forest for all. In alignment with the City of Austin’s Strategic Direction 2023, we highly encourage young people from communities of color and communities facing systemic barriers to apply. 

 

"Before joining Youth Forest Council I knew I wanted to help the environment in a broad sense. Now I feel excited to explore careers in Urban Forestry and Environmental Education. YFC has introduced me to so many great people and taught me a lot about myself. YFC is the best!"

2021 Youth Forest Council member

Apply for the 2022 Youth Forest Council!

We are so happy that you’re interested in becoming a Youth Forest Council Member. Please read below for more information on applying. If you have questions at any point throughout the application process, email youthforestcouncil@austintexas.gov.

The 2022 Youth Forest Council Member Application deadline is Sunday, October 17, 2021.

 

Photo: Youth Forest Council members stand outside in nature. The Austin skyline is behind them.


Who should apply? 

Youth Forest Council applicants should be: 

  • Curious about the environment and their communities and interested in exploring careers related to both
  • Passionate about making a difference in their community
  • Able to meet all work expectations, including:
    • working 10-15 hours of work per month for a year
    • attending at least 2 meetings per month; meeting dates and times will be determined based on Youth Forest Council members' schedules
  • Ages 16-19 at the start of the internship (January 2022)
  • Currently living within the City of Austin or the extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ)
  • Eligible to legally work in the United States 

There are no academic requirements for participation in the Youth Forest Council. 

In alignment with the City of Austin’s Strategic Direction 2023, we highly encourage young people from communities of color and communities facing systemic barriers to apply.


What you will need to apply: 


Timeline and deadlines:

  • Youth Forest Council Member Applications are due by 11:59 pm on Sunday, October 17, 2021.
  • Recommendation Forms are due by 11:59 pm on Sunday, October 24, 2021 (one week after Member Applications).
  • Following the Recommendation Form deadline of October 17, 2021, all completed applications will be reviewed by Urban Forest Program staff. After this point, applicants will be contacted regarding next steps, including interview decisions.

If accepted: 

If selected to participate, applicants will become employees of the City of Austin and must follow all City rules and policies. Youth Forest Council members must agree to do their best to represent the City's Urban Forest Program in their communities with respect and professionalism. Additionally, accepted Youth Forest Council members will be required to:

  • Complete necessary hiring documents and verify their work eligibility with acceptable documents
  • Attend a 30-minute in-person session with our human resources representative to review paperwork and provide copies of work eligibility documents
  • Attend an orientation either virtually or in-person (this will be evaluated based on public health recommendations as defined by Austin Public Health)

More information regarding these processes will be sent following acceptance decisions. 

Meet Youth Forest Council members!

"This is one of the most supporting and accepting environments I've been in and I feel like so much more than just an intern."

2021 Youth Forest Council member

 2021 Cohort


Ava, a teenage girl with light brown hair and blue eyes, wearing taupe floppy-brimmed hatAva

she/her/hers

Core Values: Empathy, Authenticity, and Happiness 

Passions: Sustainability, Equity, and freedom of speech.

Ava applied to be a part of the Youth Forest Council because a family friend of hers offered to write a letter of recommendation for her before she even knew about the program. Her family friend said she felt this was a great opportunity to learn about sustainability – something she is extremely passionate about. After interning for the Youth Forest Council, Ava has solidified her passion for contributing to a more sustainable world. Thanks to this internship, she has officially applied to be a sustainability major in college.

Community Action Project: Preservation Over Innovation

Ava created a story map that focused on the misconceptions about mass tree plantings being the solution to climate change. She worked to inform members of her community that we must preserve our urban forest before we can expand it through helpful maintenance tips. 

Check out her CAP here: Preservation Over Innovation (arcgis.com)


Eliana, a teenage girl with long dark brown hair and brown eyes, wearing a blue headbandEliana 

she/her/hers

Core Values: Dependability, authenticity, open-mindedness

Passions: conservation, equity, and environmentalism

Eliana applied to the Youth Forest Council because she saw it as a good opportunity. She was able to learn more about green careers and how it relates to environmental justice. The internship influenced Eliana to continue her education and pursue a career related to conservation. 

Community Action Project: Little Green Library 

Eliana’s community action project was the Little Green Library. It is the same concept as a Little Free Library but has an emphasis on complex environmental issues: the climate crisis, pollution, greenhouse gases, etc. She hopes this will educate children and adults in her neighborhood about ways we are harming our planet and ways we can better it, so that we may leave a world for future generations. 

Message for the Austin Community 

“It is our responsibility to make sure that humans prosper alongside nature not at the cost of it.”

Check out pictures from her Little Green Library: Little Green Library Pictures


Fiona, a teenage girl with wavy blond hair, wearing a white t-shirt and white barrette in her hairFiona 

she/her/hers 

Core Values: Connection, Inclusion, Curiosity 

Passions: Visual art, sustainability, social justice

Fiona applied because she was interested in learning more about Austin’s urban forest, green careers, and environmental inequity. She feels that experiences in nature are extremely valuable to all people, and she greatly values her own experiences hiking, exploring, and being outside in green spaces in Austin. She will take away an even greater appreciation of nature and the systems, people, and communities that work to preserve it and make it a more equitable place for all. Because of the Youth Forest Council, she was inspired to pursue a career in environmentalism. 

Community Action Project: DisabiliTree: A Film on Disability and Trees

Fiona created a digital StoryMap of her film DisabiliTree: A Film on Disability and Trees. The film explores the experiences of individuals and how they navigate disability and accessibility while maintaining a relationship with trees. She hopes that the film encourages viewers to evaluate accessibility in the natural spaces they enjoy and creates representation for an underrepresented experience. 

Message for the Austin Community 

"Try noticing and acknowledging the trees that surround you in your daily life. Our urban forest always supports us even though we often disregard it. Incorporate tree hugging into your routine, even if it feels silly.”

Check out her storymap and film DisabiliTree: A Film on Disability and Trees


Light blue circle with the name Juliette in darker blue letteringJuliette 

she/her/hers 

Core Values: Empathy, justice, creativity 

Passions: Art, environmental activism, literature 

Juliette applied to be a member of the Youth Forest Council because she wanted an opportunity to make a difference in the Austin environmental community. She has always wanted to advocate for the environment from a young age and hoped that the Youth Forest Council would be able to provide her with the tools and information she needed to begin doing so. During the internship, Juliette was able to not only learn a lot about advocating for the environment but also pick up many other skills and experiences that could translate to any path of life she chooses to pursue. Youth Forest Council has also made her realize just how important it is that we preserve our wild spaces and bring nature into our city. 

Community Action Project: Austin Homegrown Parks 

Juliette created an instructional guide on gardening with native plants in the Austin area, to spread the concept of creating Wildscapes help Austinites build their own. 

Message for the Austin Community: 

“With our green spaces are getting smaller and smaller, it can be hard to imagine there is anything we can do to help individually. But remember that with every tree you plant, you're providing resources for thousands of native bugs, birds, and animals. Even a single flower makes a difference.”

Check out her infographic: Austin’s Homegrown Parks Infographic (PDF)


Keira, a teenage girl with long light brown hair, wearing gold hoop earrings and a yellow bandanaKeira 

she/her/hers 

Core Values: Kindnesses, action, understanding

Passions: Nature, connection, understanding

Keira applied to YFC because it was just what she needed as a steppingstone to find out the possibilities in green careers and imaging what I could do with her life. 

Community Action Project: McCallum Tree Guide and Toolkit for Creating a Tree Appreciation Program on your AISD campus 

Keira's CAP grows an appreciation for the heritage trees (trees 24 inches or more in diameter and certain Texas species) on her school campus through personalized tree plaques made by students. On the plaques, there is a nickname, common, and scientific name on the plaque, along with a brochure guide with fun facts about trees and urban forests. 

Message for the Austin Community

“I want everyone to be aware about how much work gets put into taking care and growing an urban forest, and get inspired by the people that do and help spread awareness of how lucky Austin is to be in such a ever improving urban forests.”

Check out her Toolkit and Guide here: Toolkit (PDF) and McCallum Tree Guide (PDF)


Sheridan, a teenage girl with black braided hair, wearing glasses and a blue turtleneckSheridan 

she/her/hers

Core Values: Open-mindedness; fairness; kindness

Passions: Leadership; equity; environmental justice

Sheridan applied to YFC because she wanted to enhance her knowledge about Austin's urban forest, connect to her community, and continue to practice and put equity at the forefront of her work. After Sheridan’s experience, she has built her network and created a wonderful little free library that she is so proud of.

Community Action Project: Little Free Library 

Sheridan built and painted Little Free Library with nature and tree related resources. These resources include wildflower seeds, nature and tree related books for all ages, tree coloring books, and tree guides. After going to check on the LFL one day, Sheridan actually found that someone had also added food to it, making it a food pantry as well!

Message for the Austin Community 

“My message to the Austin community is to not be afraid to speak out about any issues or concerns you see or experience. There's power in numbers, and a community can work together to bring about change. Learn as much as you can and always keep an equitable lens!” 

Check out her Little Free Library Here: 

Flyer - Calling all Nature Books (PDF)

Little Free Library Brochure (PDF)

Little Free Library Infographic (PDF)

Check out the photos of the library


Veronica, a teenage girl with long dark brown hair and dark eyes, wearing a white and blue t-shirtVeronica 

she/her/hers 

Core Values: Flexibility, Growth, Compassion. 

Passions: Environmental Conservation, Yoga, Music. 

Veronica applied to YFC because she wanted to learn more about green careers and forestry. She has learned so much about leadership and professionalism. Veronica is walking away with a better understanding of Austin’s urban forest and the impact it has on the community. 

Community Action Project: Project Learning Tree: Brykerwoods Elmentary 

Veronica received her Project Learning Tree teacher certification during her YFC internship. She returned to her elementary school, Brykerwoods, to teach forestry lessons. She taught a small group of 1st-grade students and a class of 4th graders. Veronica taught each grade level one Project Learning Tree lesson and lead one tree ID tour, adding up to a total of 4 lessons/visits. It was a great experience, and she will be going back next semester! 

Message for the Austin Community 

“Austin is lucky to have the urban forest we do! Protecting it and making sure everyone has access to its benefits is of great importance.”

Check out pictures here: PLT: Brykerwoods


2020 Cohort


Circle that says "Antonia"Antonia

she/her/hers 

Core Values: Compassion, Inclusion, Empathy 

Passions: Engineering, Music, Plants 

Antonia had grown interested in environmental science and issues concerning climate change but also wanted to learn more about how these issues directly impact communities. Youth Forest Council seemed like a good way for her to learn more about how important trees and nature are in urban areas, as well as allow her to gain work experience and expose her to professions that she may want to pursue in the future. Nature has always been in her life, providing comfort, places to think, and inspiration.

Community Action Project: Stories Through Nature — Forest Bathing

Antonia partnered with fellow Youth Forest Council members Edgar and Evelyn to create a series of blog posts called Stories Through Nature. The posts highlight the social and emotional benefits of nature through forest bathing and talk about her experience transitioning from high school in Austin to Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. 

Message for the Austin community: "Although it might not seem like it, trees are a fundamental part of our community. They provide so many benefits that, without them, our lives would change drastically."


Circle that says "Britney"Britney

she/her/hers 

Core Values: Empathy, Compassion, Growth 

Passions: Mental Health, Nature, Physical Health 

Britney applied to be a member of the Youth Forest Council to learn more about how she can support Austin's urban forest for the well-being of the community. Being in nature helps her ground herself in the present. It helps calm her mind.

Community Action Project: Youth Forest Gallery

Britney created the Youth Forest Gallery featuring art from young people across Austin that was inspired by trees and what they meant to each young person. 

Message for the Austin community: "Take some time to appreciate the trees in your community! Reflect on how trees have affected you in your life."


Circle that says "Edgar"Edgar

he/him/his 

Core Values: Community, Respect, Grit 

Passions: Engineering, Creating Friendships, Social Justice 

Edgar applied to the Youth Forest Council to learn about the green spaces in Austin and how important it is to respect that space. Nature was his go-to whenever stressed or just looking for fun. Nature is always there and embracing its beauty makes it more inviting to go out.

Community Action Project: Stories Through Nature — Tree ID

Edgar partnered with fellow Youth Forest Council members Antonia and Evelyn to create a series of blog posts called Stories Through Nature. The posts highlight the social and emotional benefits of nature through tree identification and talk about his experience transitioning from high school in Austin to Boston University. 

Message for the Austin community: "Shade is our friend in Texas during the summer, so we should protect and enjoy our trees’ shade."


Circle that says "Eliane"Eliane

she/her/hers 

Core Values: Passion, Communication, Honesty 

Passions: Social Reform, Medical Technology, Freedom of Choice 

Eliane wanted to become better connected with the urban forest in her city, while helping her community through projects aimed to create urban forestry appreciation within Austin residents. She believes that nature is something that everyone depends on if they realize it or not, and that apart from being a physical necessity for her life, it has a become an amazing mental space for her to relax in. She is grateful to have so many nature resources in her community, because it is so important to her well-being.

Community Action Project: A Virtual Tour of Swede Hill Pocket Park

Eliane created a virtual tour of Swede Hill Pocket Park in her neighborhood to encourage her neighbors to engage with their nearby nature. She also hoped for people to explore a part of town they may have never seen from their own home! 

Message for the Austin community: "We have a wonderful gift of our urban forests, so we should use this opportunity to improve our community by caring for our trees in efforts to improve our daily lives, as well as the world around us."


Photo of EvelynEvelyn

she/her/hers 

Core Values: Respect, Passion, Open-Mindedness 

Passions: Hispanic Culture, Leadership, Education  

Evelyn applied because she wanted to give back to nature. After being in a nature-immersive mentorship program during middle school, she felt like it was her responsibility to further educate herself and her community about the environment in hopes to properly maintain and share it. This program helped her grow out of her shell into becoming a better leader and communicator. Nature helped her push her limits (physically and mentally) and it has been a peaceful safe haven at times.

Community Action Project: Stories Through Nature — Tree ID

Evelyn partnered with fellow Youth Forest Council members Antonia and Edgar to create a series of blog posts called Stories Through Nature. The posts highlight the social and emotional benefits of nature through tree identification and talk about her experience transitioning from high school in Austin to the University of Pennsylvania.

Message for the Austin community: "Trees are there for you, but we are also here for them! We need one another to grow; let nature be the lasting impact you leave for your community."


Circle that says "Isabel"Isabel

she/her/hers 

Core Values: Independence, Ethics, Dependability 

Passions: Nature, Animals, Happiness 

Isabel applied because she wanted a better understanding of the environmental issues Austin is facing. She believes that a better understanding leads to solutions to create change and she wants to make a change in her community. Isabel believes that she needs the environment around her to be healthy if she want to be healthy. Nature matters to her because it is what she needs to thrive and live a healthy, happy life.

Message for the Austin community: "For people to please plant more trees and educate themselves on their benefits. They provide nothing but value in various forms like shade, easing pollution, and cooling down the city."


Circle that says "Kisara"Kisara

she/her/hers 

Core Values: Interconnectedness, Empathy, Curiosity 

Passions: Nature, Reading, Knowledge 

Kisara applied because she wanted to understand how the city works to care for and protect the urban forest. Secondly, she wanted experience in local government.

Community Action Project: Youth Forest Stewardship Curriculum

Kisara created a Youth Forest Stewardship Curriculum aligned with TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) as a resource for middle school teachers to teach their students about Austin's Urban Forest, sustainability, and more. To learn more about Kisara's curriculum or use it in your own classroom, please email youthforestcouncil@austintexas.gov.

Message for the Austin community: "Trees provide a multitude of benefits to people, to other creatures, and to the environment. They are integral to the community."


Photo of MatthewMatthew

he/him/his 

Core Values: Authenticity, Compassion, Dedication 

Passions: Climate Change, Racial Equity, Gardening 

Matthew applied to the Youth Forest Council because he was interested in learning more about trees and nature. This internship also was extremely flexible, so he could participate in addition to being busy at school. Nature has helped him to become more aware of the injustices in the world in terms of pollution and environmental destruction, so he became involved in environmental activism to ensure a sustainable future. He is also a hobbyist gardener, so he really enjoys observing different plants and bugs.

Community Action Project: Barton Creek Greenbelt — An Interactive Map

Matthew created a digital storymap of the Barton Creek Greenbelt so that people with more limited access to nature - during the pandemic or otherwise - could enjoy the greenbelt from their homes.

Message for the Austin community: "Trees have so many benefits that people need to know about besides providing shade... there are so many creatures that depend on the health of trees to survive, and we need to take them into account when talking about trees."


Circle that says "Maximos"Maximos

he/him/his 

Core Values: Empathy, Foresight, Patience 

Passions: Mental Health, Socially Responsible Engineering,  Physical Health 

Maximos applied to the Youth Forest Council because he wanted to meet people outside of his usual circles while also learning to become a better citizen of Austin. He feels that nature, in its full glory, is an invigorating place to be. Whether it be open and grassy fields or silent and wooded areas, nature has always been where he could find himself and effectively introspect.

Community Action Project: Trees of Central Texas Word Search

Maximos created the Trees of Central Texas Word Search!, which includes tree images and fun facts. He hopes to educate people about our urban forest in a fun and engaging way. Download the Trees of Central Texas Word Search!

Message for the Austin community: "Trees are like transformers, more than meets the eye! I know from personal experience that even if you don't really think about trees all that often, they play a large role in your day-to-day life."


Photo of PearlPearl

she/her/hers 

Core Values: Dedication, Respect, Community 

Passions: Gun Violence Prevention, Yoga, Hiking 

Pearl applied to be a member of Youth Forest Council because she wanted an opportunity to learn about and promote our urban forest. Pearl believes we are so lucky to have such a vibrant urban forest in Austin and Youth Forest Council was a way to appreciate and support it. Nature is important to her because it allows us to connect to the larger ecosystem of life that is present all around us, but we do not always appreciate. Nature allows her to keep a healthy perspective on life and all its challenges.

Community Action Project: Adopt-A-Tree Event

Pearl partnered with TreeFolks to create an "Adopt-A-Tree" event at her high school, LASA (Liberal Arts and Science Academy), to encourage planting and stewardship of trees. Read an article about Pearl's project in her school paper or view a map of the 100+ trees that Pearl helped distribute.

Message for the Austin community: "Trees are such a huge part of what keeps Austin weird! By caring for our urban forest today we are preserving our city, and what makes it special, for generations to come."


Photo of ThazinThazin

she/her/hers 

Core Values: Honesty, Respect, Compassion 

Passions: Adventures, Traveling, Being in Nature 

Thazin applied for the Youth Forest Council because she wanted to challenge herself by stepping out of her comfort zone. She also wanted to meet new people and knew she was going to gain knowledge and work experience from this Internship. Nature matters to her because it has been big part of her life. She loves the feeling she gets when she's surrounded by nature. Whenever she feels stressed, unhappy, or any feeling that gives her difficult times, nature is the only place she can go to clear her mind. She feels peace and feels that seeing the beauty we have out in the nature is magnificent.

Community Action Project: Inspired by Trees and Nature Video

Working with members of her community, Thazin created a video called Inspired by Trees and Nature to highlight different people's connections to trees, nature, and the outdoors.

Message for the Austin community: "Trees decorate our world and they protect us from the harsh environment. Everyone knows we can't survive without trees. They give us food to eat, wood to build houses, and they are home for wildlife."

Learn more about Austin's urban forest.

 

Questions? Email youthforestcouncil@austintexas.gov.