Carolyn Livengood: The Student Conservation Association reaches milestone


The Student Conservation Association, the national leader in providing young people, 15 to 19 years of age, with career-shaping opportunities in conservation, has reached a phenomenal milestone — 75,000 volunteers in total — since SCA was founded in 1957.

The high school and college-age youths protect and restore America’s parks, forest, refuges, seashores, cultural landmarks, and community green spaces in all 50 states.

California is ranked second among all states for providing volunteers.

SCA is also announcing that Jaime Berman Matyas, former executive vice president and chief operating officer of National Wildlife Federation, will take the helm of SCA in September as president and CEO. She succeeds Dale Penny who is retiring after nearly 20 years of dedicated service.

For the past five years, SCA has offered programs in San Mateo County in partnership with the San Mateo County Department of Parks, San Mateo County Parks Foundation, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and JobTrain, a job training and career counseling center in Menlo Park, to involve and inspire underserved, local youth and young adults in hands-on conservation stewardship.

“This summer, SCA youth crews have participated in valuable outdoor conservation work and “green job” readiness training in work ethics, time management, teamwork, leadership, appropriate gear and clothing, and communication,” Bettina Mok, regional youth program director, California/Southwest Region, wrote in an email. “The SCA SF Peninsula summer program offers youth in San Mateo County meaningful environmental conservation jobs, hands-on education, and outdoor recreational opportunities, such as camping or kayaking — which many of the youths have never experienced before.”

The parks being served are Rancho Corral de Tierra in Montara in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and Coyote Point, San Mateo; Edgewood, Redwood City; Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, Moss Beach; Huddart Park in Woodside; San Bruno Mountain, northern San Mateo County; San Pedro Valley Park, Pacifica; and Wunderlich, Woodside.

In this year’s summer program, 34 teens and eight young adults are participating in San Mateo County: six to 10 youth members per crew, ages 16 to 18, from low-income households. The crewmembers earn a stipend upon successful program completion.

The youth are recruited from various schools and cities throughout the county, such as Eastside College Prep; East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy; Sacred Heart Prep; Wilderness School; and El Camino, Jefferson, Menlo Atherton, Oceana, Palo Alto, Redwood, Sequoia, Terra Nova, Thornton, and Woodside high schools.

Marvin Nieto, a 17-year-old junior at Sequoia High School in Redwood City and part of the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program that focuses on college readiness, is a participant in SCA to explore the environmental field before he begins college.

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Student Conservation Association