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Youth crew goes the distance in litter, noxious weed cleanup
Three San Juan Island kids have been walking 12 miles a day to clear San Juan County’s roads and beaches of litter and noxious weeds.
The Ecology Youth Corps has been deployed on all four ferry-served islands for the past month. They concluded their work this week, and as one participant stated, “it’s not easy work but it’s been worth it in the end.”
The partnership between San Juan County Public Works and the Ecology Youth Corps is funded by the Ecology Community Litter Cleanup Program. The Ecology Youth Corps is Washington State's largest youth employment program. Participants earn minimum wage while gaining job skills, teamwork experience, and safety awareness.
The three teenagers hired this year from San Juan Island are Abbie Vogel, Christian De La Zerda, and Carter Feuhr.
EYC Supervisor Erik Moore said, “we have removed well over a ton of trash, nearly 1,000 pounds of recycling, pulled countless hundreds of noxious weeds, cleaned around 100 miles of roadways, and over 90 acres of beaches and parks.”
This year the crew expanded its work to include the removal of noxious weeds along county roads.
“Identifying and removing noxious weeds provides an opportunity for island youth to enlarge their understanding of the natural world, while helping out their island community," Judy Jackson of the county Noxious Weed Board said. "The Noxious Weed Board is grateful to the Ecology Youth Corps for their help in removing tansy ragwort and common teasel from our roadsides.”
Moore noted that this summer’s program has been a great success and that the island group is covering more miles than any other youth corps group in the state.
Sam Gibboney, county Solid Waste administrator, has hopes for future summer programs.
“The Youth Corps program is an excellent example of state, local and community collaboration,” she said. It’s a win for all involved.”
The kids agree and hope the program is available for other youth next year. “I’ve learned a lot about plants and recycling and got a lot of exercise," one of the crew said. "It’s been a good job.”