Youth Leadership Programs
We believe that youth are essential partners in creating a healthier community.
The St Mary’s Nutrition Center in Lewiston, Maine provides training opportunities for diverse crews of teenagers throughout the year. Their unique and powerful voices are heard within their community as they learn to grow, harvest and cook healthy food; learn about nutrition, food systems and hunger; and teach others their newfound knowledge. Youth receive stipends for participation in most programs. Applications are released a few months prior to each program’s start date and are competitive.
Entry points for new youth into the Youth Programs are the Spring and Summer Youth Gardening sessions, and the Youth-Powered Cooking programs:
Youth Gardener Programs are opportunities for young people to develop their voices within their community as they explore in urban and school gardens, kitchens, social justice workshops, and nation-wide youth networks. Job skills training happens in the field as youth provide a crucial service to the community—making healthy food more accessible.
- The Spring session runs April-June.
- Two Summer sessions run mid-June to mid-August, for five days a week over four weeks.
- The Fall session runs September-October (reserved for youth who have built experience during a previous session).
Youth-Powered Cooking is a fall/winter opportunity for a small group of youth to receive hands-on training in cooking, culinary workshops and serving nutritious foods while deepening their connection to their local food system.
Youth who have graduated from a program above are eligible for these exciting leadership tracks:
Youth Campaign Crew is a group of alumni youth working together during the school year to raise awareness and make change around issues of food and healthy eating in their school and community. In this program, youth have the opportunity to cultivate their voice, strengthen their communication skills and learn to use different media tools to get their message out to the world.
Winter Leadership Intensive runs for four weekends in February/March. Through a series of weekend workshops and weekly meetings, youth have an opportunity to work closely with a group of their peers as they critically engage with topics such as health, hunger and food justice. Participants develop real-world skills in public speaking, group facilitation and community organizing that can be directly applied to their work igniting positive change within their schools and communities.
Youth Internship Program is an opportunity for experienced alumni youth to take on more responsibility and leadership. In February, interns start their term by attending the Winter Leadership Intensive and in the spring, they lead children and volunteer groups in the gardens and develop hands-on workshops. During the summer, interns are busy planning and leading Summer Youth Gardeners workdays, teaching workshops, participating in field trips and raising money to attend the national Rooted in Community conference.
If you are a teen looking for leadership and training opportunities, please contact us.