Nearly 100 Cook County Youth Participate in Summer Jobs Program

Participants learned highly recognizable, transferable skills

Thanks to a partnership between the Forest Preserves of Cook County, Friends of the Forest Preserves and the Housing Authority of Cook County, 84 youth came together to celebrate the completion of the five-week Forest Preserves Experience paid summer internship. During the internship, participants learned basic job skills they can use in the future along while experiencing environmental education activities and exposure to conservation-related careers. 

This year’s Forest Preserves Experience crews included youth ranging from 14 to 19 years old who come from families who utilize the services of the Housing Authority of Cook County. Throughout the program, the participants conducted hands-on work at local forest preserves, learned about the environment during educational days, met with and learned from conservation professionals, participated in a Green Career Panel, well as a “Smart Money” class presented by HACC.

“Thanks to the continued collaboration between the Forest Preserves, Friends of the Forest Preserves and the Housing Authority of Cook County, nearly 100 youth experienced a meaningful employment opportunity and learned the skills needed for successful futures,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “Participating in summer work programs not only broadens the horizons of our youth by exposing them to a variety of conservation related career paths, it can also be an effective way to reduce youth violence.”

“The growth that this program has seen over the years reflects the desire of our youth to reach their full potential. The skills they have learned by taking that all-important step toward adulthood, a summer job, will serve them for the rest of their lives. We look forward to continuing this partnership so that more kids will have the same opportunity,” said Richard Monocchio, Executive Director of the HACC.

One goal of “The Forest Preserves Experience” is to retain youth who are passionate about conservation, and lead them into other Conservation Corps programs, such as the Chicago Conservation Leadership Corps. 

“We hope by participating in this summer jobs program, each participant knows the potential for future career paths related to conservation and the environment,” said Arnold Randall, General Superintendent of the Forest Preserves. “Whatever their interests may be, this is a growing industry that includes opportunities in environmental law, environmental advocacy, wildlife biology, forestry and more.”

Funding for this year’s Forest Preserves Experience was provided by the Housing Authority of Cook County and the Forest Preserve Foundation, which granted a total of $125,000. Commissioner Deborah Sims helped secure $75,000 of the Foundation’s contribution thanks to a grant from Illinois Counties Association.

To learn how your organization can partner with the Forest Preserves on summer youth employment opportunities, contact Alice Brandon, resource management programming manager for the Forest Preserves, by email at 


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