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.