Youth Empowerment

We offer year round employment for youth in our community.  We engage high school aged students (ages 14-18) in meaningful work that contributes positively to our community. 

Youth Farm Crews - Spring, Summer, and Fall

We work with City of Kingston youth to grow food, farm, engage in community service, practice wellness skills, and be invested environmental stewards through hands on farming experiences and community involvement. Participants learn culinary skills, visit local farms, participate in community service, and sell their crops to the community at our farm stands. 

Through this employment program, youth practice skills related to sustainable urban farming, as well as customer service and other valuable job readiness skills. The youth farm crew participants also learn about food justice, local food systems, and are positioned to become agents of change within the food system.

Each high school farm crew season will include workshops with experienced professionals in the agriculture field such as local farmers, farm-to-table co-packers, farm market managers, food justice advocates, and/or local chefs.   

We have made a commitment to racial justice and are delving deeply into what it means to be an antiracist.  In the summer of 2020, we installed a Say Their Names Memorial based on Joy Proctor's idea.  The memorial shines light on Black lives lost to racial injustice.  Upon taking down the Memorial at the end of the season, the youth read each name from the Memorial.  Here is the recording of Saying Their Names:


Cooking Crew - Winter

During the winter months, November-March, we run cooking crew for area youth.  Cooking crew meets once a week to prepare a meal from scratch.  Youth work together to cook a multi-course meal.  We then sit down and share a meal as a group.  We invite community members and leaders to sit down and break bread with us as well.  Youth participants earn a stipend for their participation. 


BARK participants learn skills related to environmental stewardship and community engagement.  BARK works around the City of Kingston cleaning up, painting, planting, and creating healthy habitats for pollinantors.  

Examples of B.A.R.K projects:

  • Painting projects at the Hodge Community Center, Van Buren Park, and Uptown Parklet
  • Stenciling Uptown storm drains with RiverKeeper
  • Bioswale Remediation in Uptown
  • Planting Sunflowers and Zinnias at the YMCA and Fuller Building and at Van Buren Park
  • Pollinator Project with Hudson Valley Bee Habitat
  • YMCA Park Planning with KAN Landscape Design
  • Utility Box Project with PUGG/DRAW
  • Weekly Trash Club Kingston trash sweeps
  • Trash Club Kingston's "Trash Talk video".  Watch it here!

History of BARK

BARK was created as a result of the the City of Kingston's participatory budgeting process in the summer and fall of 2018.  The residents of Kingston voted to allocate City funds to the beautification of of the city as well as youth development.  The City of Kingston awarded the Kingston YMCA Farm Project funds to create a youth development and beautification program in 2019.  

To further our commitment to opportunities for youth, we are dedicated to continuing the BARK program. 


Youth Design Projects

Our winter programming includes a Youth Design Team which responds to community issues and opportunities. 

In 2019, the Youth Design team launched through working on the Pine Street African Burial Project.  Youth deeply engaged with the history of enslavement in Ulster County and the history of the Pine Street African Burial Ground.  The Design Team met with historians, archeaologists, architects, curators, and design professionals to create a design that honors the history of the people buried on the site and educates and engages the public.  

In 2022, the Youth Design Team worked on re-envisioning the Broadway Bubble Laundromat as an inclusive laundromat and community space that meets the needs of the community.  The Youth Design Team created a design for the interior and exterior of the building that emphasized inclusivity, green design, activities for all ages, and language justice.