$170,000 donation provides students with green jobs training
August 4, 2009 (Philadelphia, PA) - Today, the Walmart Foundation and Student Conservation Association (SCA), together with the Friends of the Wissahickon, Philadelphia Youth Network and Sustainable Business Network, announced the launch of an innovative Conservation Leadership Corps program to engage 50 local high school students in conservation service, environmental education, and green jobs training in the Philadelphia region. The announcement took place in Wissahickon Valley Park - an active Conservation Leadership Corps site. Katherine Gajewski, the newly appointed Director of Sustainability for the City of Philadelphia and a SCA alumnus, was also present to launch the program.
Funded through a $170,000 donation from the Walmart Foundation, the seven-week program is designed to provide participants with green career skills and green job training, and to identify and develop conservation leaders among Philadelphia's young people. Local projects are sited at the Friends of the Wissahickon Valley Park, John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, Cynwyd Trail Lower Merion Township and Valley Forge National Historic Park. Work includes invasive plant removal, stabilization projects, debris removal, litter pick up, gardening, monument cleaning, graffiti removal, trail construction and erosion repair.
"SCA is about empowering young people, connecting them to nature, and practicing lifelong stewardship," says SCA President Dale Penny. "Here in Philadelphia, our members will provide hands-on conservation service while performing trail building and restoration, invasive plant removal, revegetation projects, and construction." Penny notes, "Participating students, who were recruited from local schools, organizations, and churches, will also engage in weekly environmental education activities.""Walmart is focused on environmental sustainability at every level. The Walmart Foundation, in particular, is proud to partner with SCA and others who share our commitment to protecting the environment for generations," said John Mims, Market Manager for Walmart Stores. "SCA plays an important and unique role in building the next generation of conservation leaders. We're excited they've chosen to work with the young people here in Philadelphia to inspire a life-long commitment to community through environmental stewardship."
City of Philadelphia Director of Sustainability, Katherine Gajewski and local Walmart Store associates volunteered alongside Conservation Leadership Corps members to conduct repair work along trails in Wisshickon Valley Park today as well.
"The Student Conservation Association has an excellent track record for training young people to become stewards of the environment in their communities," said Katherine Gajewski. "The launch of a Philadelphia Conservation Leadership Corps is an important step in the right direction as we work as a city to implement the ambitious, new sustainability goals laid out in Greenworks Philadelphia and ready a new generation for opportunities in "green" industries."
Lemiah Tucker, Conservation Leadership Corps student from the Philadelphia area, shared her thoughts on the program at today's press conference. "The opportunity I had this summer to learn new things and explore my interest in the environment was not only a great experience but an amazing chance for me to gain marketable skills for the career I hope to have in the green industry. The Conservation Leadership Corps is giving me an advantage I am truly appreciative to have."
Across the nation, thousands of SCA members annually protect and restore national parks, marine sanctuaries, cultural landmarks and community green spaces in all 50 states.
EDITOR'S NOTE - Event photos available upon request.
About the Student Conservation Association
SCA is a nationwide conservation force of college and high school students who protect and restore America's parks, forests, refuges, seashores and communities. For more than 50 years, SCA's active, hands-on practice of conservation service has helped to develop a new generation of conservation leaders, inspire lifelong stewardship, and save the planet. SCA is a non-profit headquartered in Charlestown, New Hampshire with regional offices in Washington D.C., Oakland, Pittsburgh and Seattle. For further information, visit www.thesca.org.
About Philanthropy at Walmart Stores, Inc.
Walmart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) and the Walmart Foundation are proud to support the charitable causes that are important to customers and associates in their own neighborhoods. Through its philanthropic programs and partnerships, the Walmart Foundation funds initiatives focused on creating opportunities in education, workforce development, economic opportunity, environmental sustainability, and health and wellness. From February 1, 2008 through January 31, 2009, Walmart - and its domestic and international foundations - gave more than $423 million in cash and in-kind gifts globally. To learn more, visit www.walmartfoundation.org.
By KYW's Karin Phillips
The official launch was held Tuesday morning for a program that introduces urban youth to "green" jobs.
High school kids in light blue t-shirts worked to clean up the area in front of the Valley Green Inn, in Wissahickon Valley Park. They are part of the Conservation Leadership Corps, a group of 50 local high school kids working at green jobs in area parks, including removal of invasive plants, picking up litter, and gardening.
Valerie Bailey (at left in photo) is executive vice president of the Student Conservation Association:
"When they end their summer, they would have gained quite a number of things. They will have learned some real job readiness skills."
Fifteen-year-old Lemiah Tucker of West Philadelphia has been working in Valley Forge Park. She says the great outdoors is something brand new for her:
"Maybe I'll volunteer down the road and help work with animals on the outside. I like this!"
Kobi Amissah of West Philadelphia, also 15, has been working along the Bala Cynwd Trail:
"I had orginally planned on being a lawyer but this is shaping me. Yeah. It might be possible in my future."
Local Walmart representative Tony Tenaglia (at right in photo):
"This is fantastic! And with the weather that we had this weekend, and the work that they are able to do today, it's obvious that it's needed."
Walmart donated $170,000 for the program.
(Photo by KYW's Karin Phillips)
Darcie Mather, an alumna of a City of Pittsburgh summer Community Crew in 2007, received a special honor and award on June 4, 2009, upon her graduation from Pittsburgh's City Charter High School. Darcie was a recipient of her school's Gemma Glass Achievement Award which commemorates the life of a former classmate at City Charter High.
Each of the ten Finalists for this prestigious award must complete a special graduation project and designate a charity that they intend to share any award money with. Darcie won the top award of $2,000.00 which was shared with the SCA, Darcie's charity of choice.
Thank you Darcie for your generosity and congratulations on your special achievement.
With the help of our friends at PNC Bank who generously donated their fabulous corporate box, a full catered lunch and a huge cake; on July 2nd, SCA TRRO staff took an afternoon at the ball park to celebrate with 20 SCA TRRO program participants who earned their High School diplomas this year. Pictured serving cake are Reese McArdle and Nick Williams, both CLC Trailblazers and graduates of Woodland Hills High School. Congrats TRRO grads!! Well done! Thank you PNC Bank for the wonderful day at PNC Park!
by Michelle Gilmore
Nearly 150 people who love Mother Earth gave back to her in Pittsburgh on Saturday, April 25, when the Student Conservation Association’s Three Rivers Branch hosted its annual Earth Day service project.
SCA program participants, alumni, and staff volunteered in Wilkinsburg at Linear Park and Hunter Park with members of the local community including Vanessa McCarthy Johnson, Wilkinsburg council member and chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee.