At SCA's Three Rivers Regional Office, the Pittsburgh Green Jobs Corps (GJC) is creating a serious buzz. A product of the partnership between SCA and local social enterprise GTECH , which utilizes green strategies to empower communities and reclaim vacant land, the GJC is an innovative method of connecting the green jobs popping up all over the region with youth most in need of career opportunities.
GJC members building their own hydroponic systems during a visit to the horticulture program at Bidwell Training Center.
In July and August 2008, the GJC program was piloted with 18 participants selected from SCA's Leadership & Environmental Advancement Program (LEAP), a job readiness program for Pittsburgh urban youth. These students got hands-on work experience in no less than five different green vocations. Their work was focused in the general areas of resource management, green technology, and renewable energy. Their many projects included:
- Conducting a survey of local businesses about disposal of used fryer oil, which will be used in an effort to develop a grease collection program for biofuel production.
- Restoring recycled bicycles for distribution to area children.
- Harvesting vegetables at a productive urban organic farm.
- Sorting recycled building materials, and preparing them reuse.
One day per week, participants in the GJC program took a field trip to shadow professionals working in green industries and learn about opportunities for continued job training. In all, 20 partners in the Pittsburgh environmental community came together to provide varied job experiences and educational activities for the Green Jobs Corps.
Participant showing off sunflowers planted and maintained by Green Jobs Corps students as part of a GTECH initiative
A highlight of the program came during the "Climate Change Solutions Tour" sponsored by the Blue-Green Alliance  . The Green Jobs Corps participants attended a press conference with environmental advocates, union representatives, local politicians, and others interested in the job opportunities associated with an emerging green economy. During a tour of green initiatives across the city, two GJC members presented stories from their summer experience, and their visions for "dream green jobs".
Participants from the LEAP program will continue with job readiness training and hands-on experience in environmental fields throughout the 2008-09 school year. The summer Pittsburgh Green Jobs Corps was just the beginning of SCA's work to develop the next generation of workforce-ready conservation leaders!