This year the Northwest Youth Program successfully piloted a youth conservation crew program based in South Snohomish County, Washington. This crew was designed to provide teenagers from the South Snohomish region with a conservation-based service experience within their own neighborhoods. The 2013 summer crews marked a critical start of SCA’s Snohomish County initiative, an important part of SCA’s strategic goal of filling 10,000 conservation service and green job training positions annually by 2020.
This is the first year that SCA has sponsored a youth conservation crew in Snohomish County. The crew was primarily funded by the Hazel Miller Foundation, and partnered with the City of Edmonds Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services for the majority of their work. Crew members came from Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace, and Lynnwood to work together for three weeks. They commuted to their worksite each day, spending the first four days of the week completing habitat restoration at their worksite, then the fifth day was spent on an environmental education focused field trip. The crew then culminated with a two-day overnight trip at Flowing Waters Campground in Snohomish while working with the Snohomish Conservation District.
Bios & Testimonials
(written by Crew Leaders CJ Goulding and Venice Wong)
Alex was a last minute addition to the crew, joining after another member dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. His addition to the crew turned out to be crucial, as he provided a sense of humor and a solid work ethic. There were multiple days where Alex would be set to a task, only to turn and find him completing beyond what he was assigned.
“I really liked the crew. Even though it was short I got to know new people. The leaders and the other crew members made the work fun. I even learned more about Yost Park, a place that is right beside my house.” – Alex Rahill
Madison Laughlin is going to be a high school senior in the fall. In school she is a diligent student, and that work ethic and attitude transferred to this summer’s crew without a hitch or hesitation. A hard worker on our crew, Madison was always looking for another task when her assigned task was completed. Even on slow days, she would finish her work and look for more. She enjoyed the learning part of the crew as much as the work, eagerly seeking more information about the plants in the marsh. The experience she had during this crew has her eagerly looking forward to how she can continue and possibly be involved again next summer.
“At first, I thought that the crew was just going to be work from beginning to end. But the environmental education lessons taught me a lot about plants, leadership, and my impact on the environment. The balance between work and learning was perfect. I enjoyed the trip to the Edmonds Wastewater Treatment Plant the most because it really opened my eyes to the impact that I can have on the environment, and that’s something I want to share.” – Madison Laughlin
Chaplyn was the captain of the crew’s imagination. His hard work and solid attitude was accompanied by an active imagination. He would always make up scenarios and questions to get the group thinking outside of the box. His high energy was a very positive influence on the rest of the crew.
“This crew was the best thing ever! We got to work in the marsh and see different birds and even a coyote! The work wasn’t too hard, but even when it was and the sun was hot, we got to stop and take breaks and play games. Camping was fun too.” – Chaplyn Mack
Edmonds Marsh, Edmonds, WA
The South Snohomish crew worked in the Edmonds Marsh, located near the Edmonds waterfront. This site is owned by the City of Edmonds Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services, and is in the middle of a transition from a freshwater marsh to a saltwater marsh. The work of the crew was focused on the edge of the 26 acre marsh and included pulling invasive plants (mainly purple loose strife) and blackberry.
Flowing Waters Campground, Snohomish, WA
The three week crew experience culminated in a trip to Flowing Waters Campground, where crew members worked on two wetland habitat restoration projects with the Snohomish Conservation District.
- 700hrs service work provided to City of Edmonds Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services
- 120hrs service work provided to Snohomish Conservation District
- 40,011sq ft invasive plants removed (purple loosestrife, Himalayan blackberry, Japanese knotweed, reed canary grass)
- 3,455 sq ft garden beds weeded
- 200ft trail brushed
Youth Development and Job Readiness
For many of these students it was their first job and first introduction to working outdoors. Friday field trips were a highlight and included visiting the Edmonds Wastewater Treatment Plant, after which crew members took home ideas about how to minimize their impacts on the land around them by taking action in their daily lives. A trip to Yost Park, where many youth were surprised that green spaces such as this one were in their neighborhoods, showed members that nature is not “something out there,” rather something right in their back yards. Particularly meaningful was the crew’s participation in a low ropes course at Camp Long in Seattle, WA. Facilitated by trained an SCA staff and a former member, crew members took part in several challenge course activities, learning valuable lessons about teamwork, trust, and support.
Edmonds Parks Director Carrie Hite invited crew members to participate in a youth focus group debating the plan and use of future community parks. This experience showed crew members ways in which they can influence the community in which they live. Additionally, some signed up for future programs with Edmonds Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services.
Throughout the three weeks, the South Snohomish Crew focused on environmental education that included local plant identification, green jobs, and sustainability. There were also lessons that focused on personal and professional development, the favorites being leadership and job readiness skills such as mock interviews and resume writing.
The SCA-South Snohomish crew is an integral part of SCA’s plan to offer conservation service and job readiness experiences to more youth in the Puget Sound area. SCA plans to build on the 2013 success by continuing to grow to include more projects and funding partners throughout the region. This year, SCA staff is building a strategic plan for its involvement in South Snohomish County, based on successes and relationships established in 2013.
Special thanks to Hazel Miller Foundation and Snohomish Conservation District