In early December, seven teens from the Belfast Community Outrach Program in Education were poised precariously on a raised log. This balancing act served as a link between the ecology concepts the teens had just learned and the leadership training they were about to begin. These teens were participants in Tanglewood 4-H Camp and Learning Center’s first of many sustainable teen leadership trainings. With these skills, the teens would go on to mentor younger Belfast area students on strategies for living in balance with the earth.

The two-day training took place at Tanglewood’s forested campus. Tanglewood instructors Leah Trommer and Darcy Berry led the BCOPE students though a schedule of leadership techniques, communication skills and facilitation methods, as well as ecology and sustainability concepts.

“Hopefully, at the end of this training, these teens and the younger students they mentor will improve the health of our natural world,” said Trommer. The students will accomplish this task together by planning and executing a series of sustainability-focused service learning projects in their community.

The Sustainable Teen Mentoring Program is the result of a USDA Children, Youth and Families at Risk grant awarded to Tanglewood. With this long-term funding, Tanglewood hopes to support other local school populations that are now required to offer a service-learning curriculum.

By partnering with Tanglewood, schools are able to meet state learning requirements, offer middle school students rich mentoring relationships, and prepare Maine youth to live in balance with the natural world.

Tanglewood sits on the Ducktrap River in a forested 940-acre section of Camden Hills State Park and offers a diverse range of year-round learning opportunities. For more information visit tanglewood4h.org.