Sonoma County – Youth Ecology Corps
Nineteen-year-old Mitch Blake squints through the hot afternoon sunlight at a gnarled tree limb overhanging a creekside path and pushes his hard hat higher on his forehead. He signals two members of his crew to come over and they discuss whether they should break out the chainsaw or not. After a few minutes they decide that the limb doesn’t need to come down quite yet but they note its location to check on it later in the year. They continue down the path, scanning either side of the trail for an offending limb or vine to trim. The rest of their crew is slogging through the creek in ankle-deep water, occasionally stopping to haul out branches, trash and other debris.
Scenes like that one are commonplace for the Sonoma County Youth Ecology Corps. Since 2009, the Youth Ecology Corps (or SCYEC as it is affectionately called by its participants) has been bettering the lives of Sonoma County youth while at the same time saving the county money in skilled labor and preventative services.