By Christopher Oak Reinier

Sonoma County Supervisor, Lynda Hopkins, met in Monte Rio recently with the staff of West County Community Services (WCCS) and members of the Sonoma County Youth Ecology Corps.  She wanted to show her appreciation and encouragement for the program and its participants.

The Ecology Corps employs youth 16 to 18 years old who have not had previous employment and are interested in environmental work as a career path.  The program begins in June, runs for 8 weeks, with 7 hour work days 4 days a week, and one day spent in education designed to prepare participants for further employment.  Vivian Diaz manages the program for WCCS.

Participants repair trails, plant trees, restore streams, remove invasive species, clean open spaces, support community gardening efforts, and so on, under the auspices of agencies such as, Land Paths, Stewards of the Coast (Armstrong Woods),and the City of Sebastopol (Laguna areas). 

The Program is sponsored by the Sonoma County Department of Human Services, the Department of Education, the Work Force Investment Board, the Water Agency, and New Ways to Work.  Steve Trippe, President of New Ways to Work, described to the gathering how the program has been increased to include now four other groups of the Corps in the County.

Over the past nine years, over 1500 Sonoma County Youth have participated in the program.  Fifty youth and young adults are participating throughout the County this summer.