Raised in Queens, Fabricio had always loved being around nature. He enjoyed being outside and was interested in landscaping, but never thought he could one day be able to work with plants. By the time he was 22, Fabricio knew he needed to make a decision about his future, but struggled with choosing a path.
One day in 2017, while attending a program for at-risk and unemployed youth, Fabricio heard a presentation about The Hort’s GreenTeam internship program. The possibility of working outdoors in a garden excited him. His decision to join GreenTeam would later be one that changed the course of his life.
On the GreenTeam, Fabricio had the opportunity to explore a potential career path. He was able to learn about plant care, landscape design, and garden maintenance. He also gained vital life skills such as time management, responsibility, and professionalism.
“I grew so much as a person,” says Fabricio, now 23. “I’ve matured. I feel more connected to nature. If I hadn’t chosen The Hort during that period in my life, I would be doing something unproductive.”
Working alongside Nick Guntli, Director of GreenTeam, Fabricio had the chance to gain confidence and and hone his skills under the guidance of a professional horticulturalist.
“I value Nick and the atmosphere; I’m always learning. I’m like a sponge right now.”
“Fabricio showed me that he has a solid work ethic,” says Nick. “He showed up on time, was dependable, and a hard worker. We saw something in him and wanted to give him the opportunity to grow with us.”
When Fabricio graduated from the GreenTeam program, he was offered a full-time position as a gardener at The Hort. Now, he is giving advice and mentoring new GreenTeam participants.
“At one time I was in their shoes. They are going through a lot and they tell me their stories. I tell them I’ve been in similar situations and there’s always a way out.”
The Hort has helped hundreds of at-risk youth since GreenTeam’s inception in 1996. Like GreenTeam, all of our social service and public programs are designed to educate and inspire, growing a broad community that values horticulture and the benefits it brings to our lives.
Each year, The Hort serves thousands of New Yorkers of all ages through comprehensive programs rooted in the natural world.
APPLE SEED builds learning gardens and provides nutrition and science education to public schools for thousands of disadvantaged children suffering from a lack of green spaces and fresh foods.
GREENHOUSE offers horticultural therapy and vocational training to incarcerated individuals on Rikers Island and helps them learn not just a skill, but also how to change the very course of their lives.
GREENTEAM provides transitional employment to at-risk youth and ex-offenders and helps them secure full-time jobs.
THE NEIGHBORHOOD PLAZA PROGRAM beautifies low-income communities across the five boroughs and helps make New York greener.
NYDIGS at the EDUCATION CENTER offers hands-on workshops, lectures, and conferences to positively change perceptions and behaviors toward community, health, and the environment.
Photography by Daniel McKnight
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