Hillview Urban Agriculture Center’s mentoring program that matches adults from Coulee Region Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) with youth from various programs in the community including La Crosse County Juvenile Justice, La Crosse County Social Service, La Crosse YMCA Teen Center, Boys & Girls Club, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. The sites for the program are Hillview’s hoop house and greenhouse which are growing food all year round. Generation Gardeners serves the need for youth in the area to have active and positive mentors and gives them a skill base for possible employment or educational direction. Generation Gardeners also serves the age 55 and better members of our community by getting them physically active and engaging them in passing on skills and care to the next generation.
Generation Gardeners will have two components. The first is Generation Gardeners drop-in days that happen twice a month, one after school and one weekend. During this time, registered mentors and mentees will be given a short orientation, training on tasks, and ice breaker by Hillview’s Program Coordinator and Generation Gardener Volunteer and then set to work with planting, transplanting, harvesting, or engaging in other tasks in a green growing space. Registration is required so that numbers match closely, all RSVP volunteers are background checked, this is open to youth from the general public, but mentors must go through RSVP and be 55 and better.
The second program is Generation Gardeners Mentor program for volunteers and youth who want a more consistent interaction. Interested RSVP Volunteers will go through a mentorship training and have a more thorough background check and be paired with interested youth for one-on-one interactions during Hillview’s Come and Grow hours. Hillview’s Program Coordinator will assign tasks and provide training and oversight and the Generation Gardeners Volunteer will assist with pairings, getting started, and troubleshoot challenges. This program is open to RSVP volunteers who have completed the background check and training and to youth from the community looking for greater connection and growing skills. Both programs also qualify for court ordered community service.