We aim to empower Youth-In-Custody through their participation in hands-on conservation projects and to document their contributions to shift perceptions of incarcerated youth. Students engage in The Monarch Conservation Project, growing milkweed in a greenhouse to provide “waypoints” for migrating Monarch butterflies. Students also contribute to a seed-saving project to plant and harvest seeds to replenish a community seed bank and sustain new plots. They also help to sort and process data for ongoing citizen science projects.
Monarch and Milkweed Project
Monarch butterflies rely on milkweed plants in all stages of their lives as they migrate throughout North America. The decline of milkweed populations threatens the survival of monarchs and the plants they pollinate. By planting milkweed, YIC students contribute to monarch conservation, take on the responsibility of the care of living things, build teamwork, learn skills for jobs in conservation and horticulture, and learn how to communicate with scientists and other community members.
Seed Saving Project
This partnership with the Salt Lake City Public Library’s Seed Library engages youth to help preserve ancient varieties of plants to mitigate against pests, disease, and climate change. Citizens can take or donate seeds from the library for their gardens. In 2020 and 2021, STEMCAP brought specialists from the Seed Library to YIC centers to guide students to grow plants in their facility and share seeds with the broader community.
Students explore Zooniverse, a web-based community science resource, and work with data for ongoing scientific projects. Students also help interpret data for the Wasatch Wildlife Watch project, which uses trap cameras to understand the impacts of human activity on wildlife.