Sonoma County Youth Ecology Corps

Over 200 young people ages 14 to 21 were
employed in this summer’s Sonoma County Youth Ecology Corps. The youth worked for
eight weeks on ecosystem restoration projects throughout Sonoma County
earning eight dollars an hour. The project hosts were environmental and
conservation-related nonprofit and government agencies from around the
county. They provided work that ranged from restoration and maintenance of
local streams for flood control, to beach cleanups, sustainable farming, and trail
building. Crew members learned about the ecosystem through an environmental
education program. They received job readiness training, and had access to
Kuder, a lifelong online career assessment program. The program began
with a kickoff barbecue work day, and culminated with an opportunities fair
where the youth met potential employers, participated in mock interviews, and
attended a financial planning workshop. Since its inception in 2009, more than
690 young people have been employed through the SCYEC. The program was
created by a partnership including numerous county agencies, departments, and
nonprofits. Five regional nonprofit youth providers hire, train, and administer
paychecks for the youth workers. The Youth Ecology Corps is an award-winning
youth employment and environmental program model. The Sonoma County Youth
Ecology Corps provides young people job skills, meaningful work, a paycheck, and an
opportunity to contribute to their community. It gives project hosts a means
to complete work they otherwise would not get done. My favorite part of the program would
have to be the lopping and clearing up the creeks and clearing out vegetation
for the, so the trees can grow out better. It makes me feel a lot better about myself
because I’m helping all the little creatures and stuff. We’ve been out at
Bouverie ranch and preserve we got rid of some weeds, we’re doing trail work,
we like hiked up a three-mile trail up to this waterfall it was pretty nice.
And I never thought I would actually enjoy manual labor but I do I love
getting outdoors and being in the creek, observing all the nature around me, I
love getting dirty and sweating and it’s just amazing. I love education, it’s my favorite part. I
mean some people learn by hearing, some people learn by, you know, getting
lectured and I learn by you know getting lectured and from doing
activities. You guys did both! It was awesome for me. I liked learning about
the dam and then we like did the microorganisms where you just like pick up,
like, you go to the creek and you collect like larvae maybe like a tiny frogs
you know I mean it looks like murky water, that’s the little insects in it, and
you take an insect out you put it in on a microscope and it’s just amazing like
what you see you know you never thought that that was living in the creek. I believe the kickoff was a great way to
start the year, it gives it a good starting point, everybody gets to meet each other.
Kind of gets people motivated to you know enjoy the program. I’ve already
benefited from the opportunity fair finding resources to career paths that I
would like to go down, find more information that I didn’t know what they
require. The kickoff starts off with everyone just kind of, they give us an
idea of what’s going on and stuff, they want it to be kind of happy so that
everyone can enjoy it and have a good summer and stuff, work hard and all that, and
then as far as the opportunities fair is concerned you know I think it’s great
thing because we have that chance where we can meet some people that have a
little bit more power I guess you could say, you know and they could give us even
more opportunity if we happen to stand out or what not. I got to see different
colleges that maybe I didn’t think of before. It’s a good way to interact with
the people who put this program together, interacting with the different crew
members and crew leaders. It makes me feel good that we’re making an impact and
making a difference and you know it’s easy to believe that you’re just one
person but when you put all those one people together into a big group and you
set your goals and you get it done which, yeah, it’s rewarding. The program was very
helpful, gives us a good stepping stone out into the you know work world. Before I
worked at this job I just, I wasn’t that much of a talker kind of guy, but being
here talking with people talking with my crew, it’s very very helpful. It makes me
feel good because we’re getting paid but we’re also helping out like the
community you know, like helping out where we live and you know helping out
people for like the habitat you know the animals, the insects, the bugs, the plants, the
oak trees you know I’m gonna take away really the work skills, honestly, getting
to work on time. I mean I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t show up to
school, I’d show up to school late, but I started working here and you can’t just do that
at work you know? I’ve been really impressed with how much we’ve done this summer in
terms of the work we can get done in a day. I tip my hat to my crew every
day! The program helped me a lot with communicating with other people and
making myself more out there. I love the work I’ve done its amazing, like some
people just lay around doing nothing all summer. With SCYEC and you know working here
I’ve actually done something important with my summer. Do this job! Get the
chance, just take it, it’s well worth it. I love this program. It’s fun, we have fun
every day, we work together so it’s pretty awesome.