Letters to the Editor

San Juan Island Conservation Corps... making an impact

SJICC, a youth leadership training program that stewards public lands, is steadily growing as it enters its third summer season.

Our focus this year: island marble butterfly enhancement and prairie restoration in the National Park, annual trail maintenance, invasive species removal and beach cleanup for the National Monument, new trail construction and land management practices for County Parks and Recreation, and trail connector design for the county Land Bank.

Zach Fincher and Jacob Kaden have been with us all three years of our existence, and have helped share their valuable experience with the community and build the program. As an educator, it has been a pleasure to witness their growth through three seasons as both started out as 7th graders and will be entering high school this year.

The United Way of San Juan County provided funding for 2013 and 2014 to help us expand from the middle school age-range to the high school age-range. We are now able to offer opportunities to middle school students who would like to remain in the program as an intern receiving a stipend or as a San Juan Service scholarship volunteer.

Natasha Webster is our first high school crew leader in training for two middle school crews. Her enthusiasm, along with Conrad Bormann's initiative, as high school participants leading middle school crews provide an invaluable mentoring experience for both age ranges. Conrad is an intern who works in partnership with SJICC, the Park Service, and County Parks helping with just about every aspect of public lands management.

Carter Fuehr-Bush, another high school participant, helped break ground for the Reef Net Point loop connector trail at Shaw County Park last spring and learned about trail design, consideration of impacts, user groups, and how to use tools safely and effectively. He currently spearheads the developing tool and seed library in partnership with the San Juan Island Grange No. 966.

For youth to actively engage in hands-on projects, as well as participate in community stewardship decisions that have a lasting impact on generations to come, helps build their confidence as thoughtful visionaries and participating activists, whether they're working with public lands or any position that emphasizes service learning and social and ecological improvement.

We're grateful to our funders: United Way of San Juan County, San Juan Island Prevention Coalition, San Juan Island Community Foundation, San Juan Masonic Lodge, Lodging Tax Facilities Program of San Juan County, the National Park Service, and the Bureau of Land Management, as well as all of our supportive partners.

For questions, comments or donations, please contact Sarah Hanson, program manager, sarah@madrona.org at P.O. Box 738, FH 98250.

Sarah Hanson/SJICC manager

 

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