Learning to care for the environment can help inspire young people and give them a new sense of purpose.

That principle helps guide youth programming at the Green Door Initiative, a Detroit-based nonprofit.

The group runs a paid summer program in which young people from underserved neighborhoods learn about pollution, flooding, and other environmental issues.

They also learn about careers in fields such as green building and natural resource management, and get experience with hands-on skills like water monitoring, invasive species removal, and carpentry.

Green Door founder Donele Wilkins says the program can empower and motivate young people.

“One young woman, she was 16 years old, and she was … not familiar with environmental justice, environmental anything,” Wilkins says.

But after the program, she earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental journalism.

Another participant came to the program through the juvenile justice system. At first, he was skeptical.

“But he really embraced the program,” Wilkins says. “He found something … that really gave him purpose.”

And he went on to finish high school.

“Those kind of success stories are why we do what we do here at the Green Door,” Wilkins says.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media