Engineering is proud to work with Operation Fresh Start (OFS) youth crews on restoration work on the City’s stormwater management system. 

Operation Fresh Start Crews work on seed collection and sorting.
Operation Fresh Start Crews work on seed collection and sorting.

Operation Fresh Start (OFS) provides a path forward for disconnected youth in Dane County, ages 16-24, through education, mentoring, and employment training. OFS programs offer youth and young adults opportunities to gain meaningful, supported work experience, while completing their high school diploma or completing industry certifications and continuing on to higher education and/or self-sustaining employment. The OFS mission is to provide disconnected youth a path to graduation and self-sufficiency.  

Engineering’s OFS crews assist with ecological restoration on at least 1,600 acres of land. Crews remove invasive species such as wild parsnip, thistles, garlic mustard and more; brush cutting woody invasive plants such as honeysuckle and buckthorn to improve site access and create habitat for native plants; planting and maintaining rain gardens and pollinator plantings; collecting and sowing native seed and even assisting with small construction projects. 

Operation Fresh Start Crews collect brush and remove it from City of Madison
Operation Fresh Start Crews remove and collect brush.

Examples of work OFS crews do while working with the Engineering Division include:

  • Remove invasive plants
  • Plant terrace rain gardens
  • Build raised garden beds
  • Build storage sheds for community gardens (Example: Owl Creek Neighborhood in 2019)
  • Repair/rebuild structures (Example: rebuilt wooden stairs to Merrill Springs Park on Lake Mendota in 2019)
  • Remove large brush (Example: Brush removal along Cannonball Bike Path between Post Road and the Beltline Highway in 2020, brush removal of previous cut or destroyed trees/shrubs in flooded Hickory Hollow Greenway between Old Middleton Road and University Avenue in 2019.)

If you see an OFS crew at work on a pond or greenway be sure to stop and thank them for their hard work. Engineering has worked with OFS since 2016. If you want to get involved with Operation Fresh Start, email


Operation Fresh Start Crews plant rain gardens.