With crews of enthusiastic teens constructing trails and rebuilding barns in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and programs promoting eco-conscious living for all, Northern Michigan non-profit SEEDS is investing its energy in a greener, cleaner future. MyNorth’s Evan Perry spoke with SEEDS’ Kaitlyn Burns to learn what makes the organization tick and how Northern Michigan kids can reap what SEEDS has sown.
What is SEEDS? What does it stand for?
SEEDS stands for Seeking Ecology Education and Design Solutions. We’re a non-profit that focuses on teaching people skills that will allow them to make better decisions throughout their lives—how to create better habits, how to maintain a healthy diet, and how to develop job skills. A lot of that training happens through green community resilience projects. Our programs are geared toward children and young adults, because they’re the ones who are both starting off in life and can benefit the most from learning new skills.
How can young kids get involved with SEEDS?
We have a K–6 after-school programs in Mesick, Brethren and Rapid City. Activities will incorporate lessons on core standards that are taught at the elementary level—math, science and so forth—, but also on culinary, nutritional and physical education. Basically, its about getting kids outside instead of indoors, and hands-on instead of in front of the screen.
We’ve also just received a grant from the General Mills Foundation for our Cooking Matters classes, which teach kids and adults the basics of cooking healthy food over the course about six weeks; those classes will be happening in Traverse City and throughout the five county area.
And what about older kids and teens?
Our Youth Conservation Corps is a made up of 16- to 24-year-olds who can earn school credit while learning green collar job skills. They work on National Park projects like building boardwalks or cleaning up rivers—doing jobs that require skills that aren’t really taught in schools and that people that age don’t practice. Groups of 5 or 6 will go to a work site with a SEEDS staffer who supervises the group, so the job gets done effectively and the kids learn along the way.
The idea is to expose kids to these skills so they can continue to hone them if they want. A former member of SEEDS’ Youth Corps went on to work as a Youth Corps assistant team leader and is now working with SEEDS as a member of AmeriCorps VISTA—Volunteers in Service to America—so we have a living example of how SEEDS has inspired continued engagement in the community.
Learn more about SEEDS and their projects at EcoSEEDS.org.