At WRTP/BIG STEP, collaboration is the way of life. Collaboration with labor unions and employers, with public agencies and lawmakers, with community members and community-based organizations. The organization’s success hinges on the success of its collaboration with these community partners.
The “Strengthening Diversity on Urban Forestry Service Delivery” program is one example of the collaborative efforts among different agencies and organizations to create and implement a successful program that benefits community members. WRTP/BIG STEP is working with the City of Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board, AFSCME District Council 48, and the Milwaukee Area Workforce Funding Alliance to recruit a class for the second year program.
“The collaboration between major city partners was invaluable in providing a quality training experience for the participants,” says Carrie Hersh, WRTP/BIG STEP’s training manager. “It allowed each of us to use our strengths instead of having unnecessary replication.”
The fruits of that collaboration are what make the process so important: jobs for people who need them.
The Urban Forestry program enjoyed a successful initial class in 2010. All 13 participants who completed the training found employment upon graduation. In fact, some were hired before they finished the course.
Ray Rivera, one of the top climbers in the class, had the choice of several employers who wanted his services before he graduated.
“What’s better than actually getting to pick who you work for? It’s a great feeling,” he says.
Ray was so pleased with the course that he agreed to speak to interested recruits about his time in the program and the opportunity it gave him.
“The training you receive is everything you need and a little more to actually go start working in the field.”
Over the course of the seven-and-a-half month Urban Forestry training, participants receive hands-on training in tree climbing and pruning, equipment operation and maintenance, tree identification, and safety instruction. Graduates earn industry recognized credentials, an important part of finding employment in a family-supporting job after graduation.
Learning from the successes and challenges of the first class, which graduated in December, WRTP/BIG STEP is working closely with program partners to ensure that positive changes are integrated for an even more successful 2011 class.
To learn more about the inaugural class of Urban Forestry, visit WRTP/BIG STEP’s youtube channel and check out videos featuring participants.