This past summer, Youth Opportunities Program (YOP) alumni Devine Malbreaux and Taine Jackson returned to the AMC fold. While working for the organization in New York, these young adults applied their leadership and decision-making skills toward supporting AMC’s mission and served as role models for the next generation of outdoor stewards.
“Through the Outdoor Leadership Training (OLT) program, YOP introduces the basics of outdoor and leadership skills to youth workers—teachers, community leaders, afterschool staff—who then independently organize outdoor experiences for youth,” says Sebastien Venuat, AMC’s New York–North Jersey YOP manager. As part of this ever-expanding network, Malbreaux was trained to lead an outdoor program by an OLT grad in 2012, and Jackson completed the OLT this past April. For some youth, the exposure to YOP is so profound that a job with AMC can be a natural fit.
On top of gaining valuable job experience, Malbreaux and Jackson are doing what they enjoy most: spending time outdoors. AMC Outdoors caught up with them midsummer to ask how things were going in the field.
Hometown: Bronx, N.Y.
2015 AMC summer job: Construction crew at Harriman State Park
How did you go from attending outdoor trips with Bronx Laboratory High School to leading outings?
“In freshman year, my school would take students on hiking and camping trips. After going on a few of these trips, I wanted other inner-city youth like myself to have the same experience that I did. As the Mohican Outdoor Center is not too far from New York City, it was the perfect place for me to do this.”
Did you see yourself change when you became a trip leader?
“When I was leading trips for my school, I slowly became more confident, and my communication and teamwork skills developed over time as well.”
How did leading outdoor trips prepare you to work for AMC’s construction crew?
“Part of being a leader is the ability to communicate with those around you. Whenever I led trips, it was key to communicate with other students to make sure everything went smoothly. The same thing applies with construction. It’s important to communicate with your team so a project can be completed smoothly and safely.”
What do you enjoy most about working in the outdoors?
“After living in the city for so long, it’s refreshing to be outdoors and to get some fresh air.”
Hometown: Woodland Park, N.J.
2015 AMC summer job: Summer crew at Mohican Outdoor Center
What made you want to participate in the YOP Outdoor Leadership Training Course?
“My profound desire to lead and teach young people to develop a relationship with the outdoors.”
Did you see yourself change after taking the course?
“The Outdoor Leadership Training Course taught me new and creative methods to become a better leader and a productive helping hand.”
How did the course prepare you for your current job?
“I learned how to be an effective team player in various circumstances, and I also learned how to make people feel like they belong by using a positive attitude.”