Making Bug Spray and Lip Balm From Native Plants
Sixteen-year-old Jocelyn Jones had heard a lot of stories about her grandma and aunties harvesting strawberries from fields in northwest Washington, but admits she didn’t pay much attention until she was actually harvesting berries herself alongside elders from the Suquamish tribe. The harvest outing was part of a youth internship that spanned food systems, traditional plant knowledge and tribal culture.
“There were lots of stories and that was pretty cool,” says Jones, who completed the paid internship with two fellow high school students. “Elders also taught us how to harvest sweet grass. I thought you just cut it off, but that’s not it at all.”
The Suquamish Gardens Summer Youth Internship is an intensive 10-week program that provides a range of experience in different elements of community food systems:
- Planting, harvesting and preparing Native foods
- Mapping invasive plant species and keeping journals
- Making 300 lip balms for a giveaway to participants of the 2012 Canoe Journey, hosted by the Squaxin Island Reservation
“For me, the most important part is getting the youth connected to their communities,” says Julia Bennett-Gladstone, coordinator of the Suquamish Traditional Plants Program. “Youth were empowered by being able to go out and harvest and make medicines and then hand them to an elder.”