Austen took the time to write about his experiences with Greenagers – we are so grateful for his hard work, thoughtfulness, and great spirit as a former trail crew member and now as one of our fearless trail crew leaders!
Here is his testimony:
My Greenagers journey started at 16 years old. It was my first “real job.” Full time and a meager 8.50/hour. Without any idea of what the job entailed, young and impressionable, I signed up. Next thing I knew we were hiking 45 minutes into the wilderness of northwestern Connecticut with a crew of 8 local teenagers on the fringes of normalcy. The payment was the experience. Waking up to the sound of birds, the orange hue of the fresh summer sun, it was liberation from a life of high school obligations. After the first day, led by a passionate and vivacious Elia Delmolino, we were all best friends. Elia’s passion was almost corny, yet unfaltering: contagious. When the work day concluded we would relax by the river and play poker for who had to carry the water jug. I continued with Greenagers until college; time passed, life changed. When I returned to the Berkshires, I was fresh off of a cross-country trip. Eager to get back into society yet nervous at the possibility of a lost opportunity. I assumed Greenagers was no longer, until a chance encounter with Elia. I popped into April Hill Farm the following week: lost, discouraged, 23 years old with no sense of direction. Once again, I found my niche in the woods. Greenagers had their first fall crew and I was offered the position of crew leader. I nervously accepted. Now, a tumultuous year later, I have a place in the organization. A true sense of belonging and direction. I’ve regained passion for the environment and once again, covered in dirt and worms, I’m happy. Happy to be part of something bigger than myself. I’ve traveled half the world, seen the silver spoon, eaten from a microwavable plastic platter, and through it all Greenagers was the unspoken angel on my shoulder, quietly laying the foundation for my future. I’m proud, truly happy, blessed, and still bewildered that these opportunities have come into my life. When I leave April Hill at 5 o’clock, I’m excited for the challenges of tomorrow, fulfilled with the day I’ve completed, and more than proud to tell my peers I’ve found my calling. It feels good to go home knowing I’ve done my part, and helped others along the way.
I’ve regained passion for the environment and once again, covered in dirt and worms, I’m happy.