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‘Green Ambassador’ helping sustain Baltimore community

Stacy M. Brown | 5/29/2015, 6 a.m.
Cathy Allen is recognized as the Green Ambassador. She has helped to spearhead efforts to plant trees at city schools, ...
Cathy Allen with Otis, a barred owl that is native to Maryland. Otis resides the Carrie Murray Nature Center located at 1901 Ridgetop Road in Baltimore. The Carrie Murray Nature Center is the oldest urban nature center in America. (Courtesy Photo)

— Cathy Allen is recognized as the Green Ambassador. She has helped to spearhead efforts to plant trees at city schools, playgrounds, and parks and in Baltimore’s urban communities.

The Green Ambassador hosted a 20 Member Youth Japanese Delegation from Fukushima, Japan in 2012. They planted Cherry Blossom Trees in the historic city of Fredrick, Maryland to celebrate the centennial of the cherry tree in the United States.

(Courtesy photo)

The Green Ambassador hosted a 20 Member Youth Japanese Delegation from Fukushima, Japan in 2012. They planted Cherry Blossom Trees in the historic city of Fredrick, Maryland to celebrate the centennial of the cherry tree in the United States.

Now, the local resident has helped to create Growing Resources After Sowing Seeds or GRASS, a youth and young adult entrepreneurship development program, which is based on the fundamentals of gardening, agriculture and ecology.

The program tackles hunger and even unemployment in some of the city’s forgotten communities, where young individuals learn the value of going green, according to Allen.

“I’m humble and grateful that I’m in this position to bring this type of a program to Baltimore’s largest food desert and not only to feed the population a product, but to feed them knowledge that they can create their own enterprises by feeding Mother Earth,” said Allen, an award-winning environmentalist. “I have been an ambassador for about five years now. I got into doing this because my children suffer from environmental asthma and I said somebody’s got to do something,” Allen said.

Allen says it’s common knowledge that trees serve to help the environment. She also says that teaching inner-city youth about planting trees and caring for the environment could go a long way in helping them carve out ways in which they can become self-sufficient and, in some cases, self-employed.

“I focused on where the children spend most of their time which is school and this is all about changing the landscape and adding beautification. The children actually plant the trees with volunteers so they can have ownership,” she said.

Allen also has focused her GRASS program in Cherry Hill and its surrounding communities, largely because it’s an area that is one of the city’s largest food deserts. Statistics revealed that Cherry Hill has a combined unemployment rate of 37 percent.

Allen has also teamed with Karla Owens-Moody, a STEM educator, to create environmental, ecological and agricultural socioeconomic change for Cherry Hill.

“In order for social change to happen, it has to happen in a urban community and it has to be a trend,” Allen said. “It’s starting to catch on so that its second nature. Marketing has always been on the outskirts of the urban community, yet here’s all of this grant money and nothing is ever in place for sustainability.”

She says there has been no one leading the charge and setting the standards.

“That’s where I come in and bring everyone together,” Allen said. “As an environmental educator and environmentalist, it is my duty and honor to seed the knowledge of how you can grow, eat and prosper just by simply honoring Mother Earth.”

On August 22, 2015, Allen will host a “GRASS Garden Party” fundraiser at the Cherry Hill Community Garden located at 900 Cherry Hill Road at Veronica Avenue beginning at 11 a.m.

In 2018, environmental engineer technicians are expected to earn $40,000 per year and those who go on to higher education in the environmental sciences will make $74,000 per year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor-Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“My primary goal is to foster growth amongst youth and young adults by providing them with the right opportunities to become self-sufficient,” Allen said, noting that participation has been nothing short of phenomenal. “I’m not surprised by the participation,” she said. “But, I’m excited, grateful and humbled because I knew it would happen.”

For more information about the Green Ambassador or to find out how you can help, visit www.facebook.com/pages/The-Green-Ambassador/129381800453763.