|Life in the city makes it hard to imagine what it might be like to have a career connected to nature: tending to animals, cultivating plants, or managing an outdoor facility. The Nature-Based Career Program is an 18-week training opportunity that develops genuine marketable skills and provides hands-on experiences in a range of outdoor settings.
Our intensive program aims to teach LGBTQ homeless and foster care youth the life and vocation skills needed to secure, and keep, meaningful employment while exposing them to new experiences that can build their resume and character. Focusing on careers in nature-based settings and utilizing the nature-based programming model from our main campus in Brewster, participants develop leadership skills, appropriate workplace behaviors and marketable competencies while on the farm in addition to enjoying clinical benefits such as developing emotional regulation, self-acceptance and anxiety reduction. This program not only teaches life skills and nature-based career skills, but also helps youth successfully transfer these skills and lessons into an urban environment.
- Learn new skills and explore the growing world of green careers
- Gain real work experience and collaborate with others
- Improve ability to search and compete for employment
- Earn a stipend for attendance and participation
- Build confidence and find a new direction
Three six-week phases help participants develop professional skills and prepare for future employment:
Phase I: Explore Possibilities
Workshops and skills training focus on career exploration, leadership development, workplace etiquette, financial management, and goal setting. Basic job seeking skills are also introduced. Participants begin to explore their relationship to nature through field trips and experiential learning, and a retreat to Clearpool outdoor education facility, to help identify areas of interest for Phase II.
Phase II: Get Outside!
In addition to ongoing classroom work, field trips to urban farming and nature programs will introduce the wide range of employment available in outdoor environments. This phase includes weekly on-site training experiences at Green Chimneys' Farm & Wildlife Center or Clearpool campus to learn alongside experts in animal care, horticulture or outdoor education.
Phase III: Put Skills Into Practice
After successful completion of the first two phases, participants test out their new skills in a final practicum (externship work experience). A six-week city-based placement helps to sharpen skills while building professional connections. Participants receive ongoing guidance as they complete training and begin to seek permanent employment.
Participants also benefit from additional development opportunities including:
- Monthly presentations from professionals in nature-based careers:
beekeepers, horse trainers, urban organic farmers, landscape architects, park rangers.
- Networking events
- Individual career advice from a mentor
For more information, contact Sarah Miles, Career Training Director
or 845.279.2995 x312.
Or complete an online application.
- 16-24 years old, identifying as LGBTQ or allied
- Able to participate in full 18 weeks of program
- Completion of appliation and interview process
The Nature-Based Career Training program is funded by The Paul Rapoport Foundation.
OPEN CALL: We are actively searching for potential guest speakers who are currently working in a nature-based career setting (both LGBT and non-LGBT folks welcome!) as well as potential placement sites for youth participating in our program. If you are interested in collaborating with us on this exciting project, please contact Sarah Miles at
Explore first-person accounts
as life on a farm unfolds...
Participants share reflections on
their experiences through posts on the
Nature-Based Career Program Blog.