Thank you to ALL of the Branching Out Supporters!

Thank you from the New York City Field Team

Now that our busy summer season has ended and everyone is settling back into their offices, youth are returning to their classrooms the Branching Out Program would like to thank you for all your handwork and dedication to our experience this summer. This is my seventh  summer being apart of the Branching Out Program and my second year coordinating the New York City program. I have to say this summer working with all of our technical experts and park partners this summer was definitely one for the Branching Out Program books! The opportunities that were provided to the field team this summer in New York City would not have been possible with out you guys. We are very thankful for being able to have this opportunity, but also for being able to share it with others during our teach-backs and closing ceremony this summer. Seeing the youth grow throughout the summer, learning new technical skills, but also just having the opportunity show others the knowledge they’ve gained and taking real ownership of their final products  is very rewarding.

Thank you Technical Experts,  
Charlie Pepper, Ellis Garden Bed Island Project
Dennis Montagna and Francis Miller, Saint Paul’s Cemetery Project
Richard Chilcoat, Governors Island Masonry Project
You guys taught us everything we needed to make our field projects successful.

SHOUT OUT : to our partners Stephen T. Mather High School, Sagamore Hill, Manhattan Sites and Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. You made our summer ROCK!

Before we go here is a quote from one of our First Year Field Team members;
”This summer of 2017 was one of the best summers I have ever had. I say this because I’ve worked and learned many new things and experiences with my peers from Mather High School. I cannot wait to learn more and continue to be infatuated with the Branching Out Program and the National Park Service.”               –Victor Gallegos

See you guys next summer!

Thank you from the Boston Field Team

I appreciate how thorough, varied, professional, resourced and connected the Branching Out program is.  The staffing organization and program structure allows the leadership team to have the time, diversity of skills, and distribution of work to achieve sustained, high quality program outcomes.  Since the Branching Out program would not be possible without the commitment and proficiency of our park partners, we are extremely lucky to work with them!

Most of all, I love seeing how the thoughtfulness of the behind-the-scenes-admin plays out in the field.  When logistics and meaningful, experiential work are taken care of, a group of people get to be a team.  My highlight of the summer was not only seeing how each individual field member and field leader grew in their technical skills, project knowledge, confidence and employability, but also seeing how the team improved their reliability, communication, efficiency and good-feeling vibes with each passing week of the summer.

My biggest accomplishment this summer was practicing when to step up and when to step back.  One of my favorite phrases that came up on ‘The Wicked Stewards’ Full Value Contract (a group agreement between Boston Field Leaders Innocent and Ashley, and I) was “your way too”.  This phrase points to the countless approaches and solutions there may be to one situation, as well as invites a moment’s pause to see from another perspective other than your own.

It’s truly been an honor to work with such a dedicated and talented group of people:  from the Branching Out staff and Branching Out participants, to our park partners and technical experts!

Although we’ve come to the end of the road…

there’s still the School-Year Program to apply for!:


It is hard for me to believe that this summer has come to an end. It is true that time flies by when you are enjoying an experience. It has been my case this summer. Working for Branching Out as a Field Team Leader has been a great pleasure.  My experience this summer has been different from my previous experiences working for a youth employment program because this was the first time that I was in a leadership position. It allowed me to improve my planning, facilitating and field work skills. Assisting with the planning process of the projects that the Branching Out Field Team has worked on this summer gave me a better understanding of “the why” and “the how” behind similar projects that I have been involved in the past. Facilitating educative and fun activities with the Field Team Members has allowed me to come out of my shell and to be more engaging and be more expressive. I also benefited from working out in the field on the various projects that we did this summer. I learned new techniques especially with planting, how to use new tools and I learned a lot about the history of all the parks that we visited this summer.

It was also great collaborating with some of the staffs from the Parks that we worked at.  Thanks to all the different National Park Service staffs and Olmsted Center staffs who have been supportive of me personally and of the Field Team this summer.

I have truly enjoyed my time working for Branching out as a School Year Ambassador and this summer as Field Team Leader. I have gained skills that will benefit me in my future career and I have made memories that will last a lifetime.  I hope Branching Out continues to “Branch Out” to more and more youth and to more and more parks.                  -Innocent Wozufia

Spending my summer with Branching Out has turned out to be my favorite work experience.  I cannot thank the program staff, Celena Illuzzi, Adrienne Sharigian, and Michelle Pizzillo, enough for their consistent support, guidance, hard work, and laughs.  Getting this job as a field team leader right out of undergrad has boosted my confidence and helped me identify both new interests for my future path and new strengths in leadership that I honestly did not think I would ever have.  With that said, I most certainly did not lead our team of 10 youth on my own, a special thanks goes out to my co-leader, Innocent Wozufia, for always having my back, working through the tough stuff, and having fun along the way!  Together, with the help of our amazing Field Team members, we were able to accomplish so many things for various parks in the Greater Boston Area.  Catherine Van Even, Daniel Plummer, Emani Gonzalez, Jeremiah Archer, Jonah Estabrook, Rob Deloacth, Conor O’Malley, Connor Ainsley, Adrian Reyes, and Mohamed Nezad, have all inspired and amazed me with their hard work and fierce spirits.  I am incredibly proud of everything they have accomplished this summer, from planting a formal garden at the Charlestown Navy Yard to building a modular shelter for Minute Man National Historical Park’s goats; you have all grown in more ways than I can verbalize, thank you for being an amazing team and being a part of such an important work force.

I would also like to thank Uriah Williams, Esther Wohl, Chris Adamec, and Alice Jervis for making the Boston team’s time together with the New York City team fun and exciting! We all had a blast getting to know you and your team, and it wouldn’t have come together without your help.

Finally, my most heartfelt thanks goes out to all of our park partners for making these projects possible.  Thank you, Charlie Pepper for all that you do, Ruth Raphael, Jake Rindfleisch, and Michael Creasey at the Charlestown Navy Yard, Kevin Kelly, Jamie Mcguane, Stephen McCarthy, Caroline Keinath, and Marianne Peak at Adams National Historical Park, Kelly Furman, Paul Cecere, Richard Althaus, Tim Donohue, and Wayne McLaughlin at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, Deni Sarno-Bucca and Matt Flynn with DCR on Peddocks Island, Matt Duffey from Hartney Greymont, Andrew Petit de Mange at BOHA, Margie Coffin Brown, Diego Rojas, Lars Boyd, and Finola Perry at Minute Man National Historical Park, Chris Beagan, Melissa Eloshway, and Jill Miller with OCLP, and Patrick Maloney, Abbey Feuka, Marc Albert, and Gavin Gardner at Saugus Iron Works.  Branching Out would not be a success without you!  It was a true pleasure to work alongside many of you, to get to know your parks, and to see what can be done when we all work together.  The future is in the hands of our young people, the time and effort we invest in them will not only propel them forward but will ensure that our world only goes up.

Thank you for an amazing summer!
Ashley Backunas

Thank you from our Interns

Moving into my 5th summer season with Branching Out, it always amazes me how much the internship keeps growing and evolving. Each of our interns, Lorre, Shreena, and Diego, grew in both the technical and professional development aspects of their internships.  Each intern takes on a variety of tasks throughout the summer not only in the day-to-day responsibilities at their park, but also in contributing to what makes the Branching Out program so unique with various trainings and enrichment opportunities.

The progress and development each of the interns made this summer is huge reflection of their knowledgeable, passionate, and dedicated mentors!

Thank you to Keith Park, Horticulturalist/Arborist at John Muir National Historic Site for hosting Lorre Mitchell in a 5 month internship where she focused on further developing her arboriculture skills. Lorre learned so much working alongside you this spring/summer, not only regarding tree care, but extending her knowledge into conducting tree assessments and data documentation and exposing her to new parks and projects while you were working on at Channel Islands National Park. Also, want to thank the rest of the staff at John Muir for your support – Ralph Bell, Fernando Villalba, Ann Bell, and Julio Sosa! Good luck Lorre in your sophomore year at UMASS Stockbridge School of Agriculture!

Also a thank you to National Parks of Boston’s Boston Harbor Islands staff for hosting Shreena Pyakurel this summer. As the Natural Resources intern she joined your team and developed her plant identification and vegetation monitoring skills exponentially! Thank you to her mentor Andrew Petit de Mange, Biological Science Technician, who kept Shreena’s schedule so organized and provided a wealth of knowledge to Shreena to learn from! Thank you to the staff at National Parks of Boston – Marc Albert, Bill Fuchs, Pat Mahoney, Rachel Vincert, Lara Klapper, Michael Creasey, Liza Stearns, Elisabeth Colby, and Kristina Bergquist. Good luck Shreena in your junior year at Mount Holyoke College.

Lastly, as Diego Rojas concluded his last internship and final summer with the Branching Out program he is leaving the program with a deeper understanding and refinement of his carpentry skills thanks to his mentors Tim Walsh, Exhibits Specialist with HACE. Diego has grown so much in his technical skills from working alongside you the past two summers, but also with professional development skills and a network to continue to grow his carpentry skills in his next position. Thank you to the staff for all your support from HACE including, Richard Chilcoat, Stephen Spaulding, and the carpentry crews stationed at Salem Maritime National Historic Site and Saugus Ironworks National Historic Site. Additionally, Diego’s host park site, Minute Man National Historic Site including Margie Coffin-Brown, BJ Dunn, and Finola Perry.


Stay tuned for more post from our School Year Programs in Boston and New York City 🙂 !!

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