Bay Area Community Program Gets Shout On KQED Radio

Peninsula Youth and County Parks Find Mutual Benefit by Peter Jon Shuler

| August 6, 2012 — 7:43 AM

For high school students, summer jobs can be a kind of necessary drudgery. But a Peninsula parks program offers urban youth a chance to work outdoors – and for some, a life-changing experience. San Mateo County is now in its fourth year with the nationwide Student Conservation Association. About 50 young people have participated. In their final day in this year’s program, crew members put the finishing touches on weather-beaten signs around the visitors’ center at San Pedro Valley Park. But they do a lot more than wield paintbrushes. Over the summer, they’ve been busy widening trails, clearing debris and constructing more than 50 drainage swales to ready the park for the rainy season. It’s hard work. But Clarissa Dela Cruz says it’s worth it. “So many people are attached to technology and cars and staying inside and office work,” says the the 20-year-old Dela Cruz, who is now an apprentice crew leader. “And for me being outside, it’s like I get to give back to the environment what it does for me." Nineteen-year-old Sam Veu heard about the program at a high school job fair – and he liked the idea of working outdoors. “I didn’t expect it to have a great impact. And the experience was like none other.” Veu says the program was a lot more than just a summer job. So he came back for a second year. “It taught me how to be more responsible, be more professional,” he says. “It taught me how to work together in a group instead of just being an individual.” While offering some much-needed repairs to county parks, the main goal of the program is to foster the next generation of conservation leaders

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