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Sonoma County Gazette
Sonoma County Youth Ecology Corps

New Direction for Youth Jobs and Ecology Program

Sep 15, 2017


A pilot program to expose young adults to opportunities in the water industry was approved by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors and the Sonoma County Water Agency Board of Directors.

The new Career Pathways Program is an extension of theSonoma County Youth Ecology Corps (SCYEC), which has provided summer jobs to more than 1,600 young people since it began in 2009. The majority of the 16-to-24-year-olds employed through SCYEC’s summer program work for eight weeks on ecosystem restoration and conservation-related projects.

“The SCYEC program was created in the depths of the recession, when nearly 25 percent of teens and young adults were unemployed. The employment scene has changed dramatically in 2017 – now SCYEC is competing with the private sector for a limited number of young people to fill jobs,” said Shirlee Zane, chair of the Board of Supervisors and the Water Agency Board of Directors. “The new Career Pathways Program provides longer-term job opportunities, career exposure and training in a field that faces a future worker shortage.”

The Career Pathways Program provides out-of-school young adults the opportunity to work for six months performing stream maintenance work for the Water Agency, and then work for an additional six months as an intern in one of several fields, including water mechanics, fleet mechanics, sanitation systems and fisheries. 

“As the silver tsunami hits, the County and many other local employers will face a shortage of trained, skilled tradespeople. The Career Pathways Program exposes young adults to desirable jobs that pay well, and gets them on a track that could help them meet the County’s future workforce needs. It’s a win-win,” said Sonoma County Supervisor and Water Agency Director Susan Gorin.

The 18-month pilot program, with two cohorts of young people, will provide opportunities for 16 young adults, ages 18 to 24. 

The first cohort is underway. Under the agreement approved by the Boards, the young adults will be employed by and receive support services fromConservation Corps North Bay. The program is administered bySonoma County Human Services Department, which also provides funding through the federalWorkforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and other state and local sources. The Water Agency provides funding and internships and career mentoring to the young adults. Other Sonoma County departments, including General Services and Regional Parks, are considering adopting the program.

For more information about the Sonoma County Youth Ecology Corps, go to


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