A Unique Partnership Between Parks & Youth
Park and land management agencies in San Mateo County have formed a partnership with the Student Conservation Association (SCA) and area non-profits to complete resource management projects that will help each agency achieve conservation goals while at the same time provide area youth with opportunities to develop environmental awareness and skills that could lead to jobs in a variety of green careers.
Beginning this summer, the SCA Green Team Project in partnership with San Mateo County Parks, Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD), San Francisco Watershed, and Redwood City Parks Department will have 11-person crews tackle a host of projects, such as trail and facility maintenance, fence construction, habitat restoration, and the enhancement of bird nesting areas. Projects will continue over a two-year period.
Funding for the project comes from the agencies themselves, the San Mateo County Parks and Recreation Foundation, Job Train and SCA. The largest funder is San Mateo County with $341,000 from Measure A for year one. Measure A is a10-year, half-cent general sales tax approved by voters in 2012 to fund essential services and maintain or replace critical facilities. According to San Mateo County Parks Directors Marlene Finley, “Park staff is eager to work with the crews and complete work that had been deferred due to budget constraints during the recession. Funding for this project is just one example of how Measure A funds are being used to protect natural resources and enhance the quality of life for residents and park visitors.”
The youth summer crews have been recruited from Daly City, Redwood City, East Palo Alto and Menlo Park. Each crew will be led by SCA-trained adult crew leaders and will complete five-week-long assignments with the first in San Mateo County Parks (Junipero Serra, Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, San Pedro Valley, and Quarry.) A second crew will work in GGNRA’s Rancho Corral de Tierra location. A roving crew will tackle projects in Redwood City’s Stulsaft Park, MROSD’s Cooley Landing in East Palo Alto, and in the San Francisco Watershed managed by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.
In addition, a special initiative is underway to engage local youth to inventory the natural resources of the 20 San Mateo County Parks. Youth teams will learn to use Geographic Information Systems/Global (GIS) technology, iPads, and ARC GIS-Collector software to help develop a first-ever, natural resources GIS database for the parks. A Senior SCA GIS Intern will work alongside the Department’s Natural Resource Manager to implement the GIS Database.
“We are tremendously excited to be partnering with San Mateo County Parks to provide conservation-oriented jobs to area youth,” said Jay Watson, Western Vice President for the Student Conservation Association. “These experiences will empower local youth through opportunities, including environmental education and hands-on project management to sophisticated resource inventory, data collection and computer-based mapping technology.”
In coordination with instruction by SCA crew leaders, the Menlo Park based organization, Job Train, will assist with job readiness skill building, including resume writing and interviewing.
A year-round component of the project continues beyond the summer for students and adults. Three crews of high-school-age youth from East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Redwood City and Daly City will participate in monthly camping, service projects and environmental education trips for a five-to-six-month period during the school year. An additional field crew comprised of adults will tackle even more projects during the fall through spring In January, SCA and a park agency will host a day of service bringing together current SCA members and alumni.
The Student Conservation Association is a 58-year-old conservation organization that protects natural and cultural resources while working to build conservation leaders and inspiring lifelong stewardship by engaging young people in hands-on service to the land. Since 2008, San Mateo County Parks and SCA have built a successful partnership.
Job Train supports the Silicon Valley community and those in most need of employment assistance by preparing them for successful, sustainable careers in high-demand and emerging fields.