Teens in California are battling a staggering 36.5 percent unemployment rate. But one group of local young people has been given the opportunity to earn money and do good for the community and the environment by joining the Student Conservation Association’s student work crews
The nonprofit Student Conservation Association is a nationwide conservation workforce of college and high school volunteers who protect and restore parks, forests, refuges, seashores, and communities. The 50-year-old organization aims to continually develop the next generation of conservation leaders, inspire lifelong stewardship, and save the planet.
Partnering over the past four summers with San Mateo County Parks to serve San Pedro Valley Park in Linda Mar and Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, the Student Conservation Organization has provided needed jobs to low-income youth. This summer, 16 Peninsula youth, ages ranging from 16-19, have participated in the five-week summer program.
The program offers youth from low-income families hands-on experience with conservation and green jobs, giving participants an opportunity to conduct habitat restoration and protection, and trail maintenance work during the summer for a $1,000 stipend.
Students receive a multitude of short- and long-term benefits from these summer experiences. Advantages include “green job” training in readiness and work ethics, knowledge of money management, basic ecology, environmental justice, leadership and teamwork.
“I had one of the best experiences working outdoors through the program. The crew leaders were awesome. They guided us through many things such as teaching us how to use different types of tools, constructing trails, and learning about ecology and the environment. Every time I talk to my friends at school about the program, I get excited and it brings a smile to my face. I believe it’s a great way to help communities and protect wildlife,” said Abdulai Bangura, crew member at San Pedro Valley Park.
Some of the accomplishments from the student crews since June include construction of more than 50 drainage dips to help drain water off trails in San Pedro Valley Park; brushing and clearing debris off eight miles of Montara Mountain Trail; and removal of invasive plants and beach cleanup at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve.
In September, the Student Conservation Association is set to launch a year-round “Green Jobs” conservation program for East Palo Alto youth. The organization is partnering with JobTrain, a job training and career counseling center in Menlo Park, to launch a “School After-School for Successful Youth” course focused on conservation ethics, workforce readiness, and exposure to sustainable businesses in Silicon Valley.
Learn more about the Student Conservation Association’s Bay Area Programs: 510-832-1966 or www.thesca.org