Valley Youth Go to Work Along the San Joaquin River
Local organizations are providing jobs and job training opportunities to young adults
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SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY, CA - River Partners, the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust, and The Nature Conservancy are creating jobs in the San Joaquin Valley. Three non-profit organizations are putting local youth and seasonally unemployed agricultural laborers to work removing weeds and invasive plants and improving the river environment for people along the main stem of the San Joaquin River in Merced, Madera and Fresno Counties. These jobs offer job training in a fast-growing industry – conservation ecology – and can provide relief from temporary unemployment in the agricultural sector during off-seasons. This massive invasive species removal program also aims to provide job skills to local university students including students from CSU Fresno, CSU Stanislaus, University of the Pacific and Modesto Junior College.
The San Joaquin Valley’s economy has been wracked by the recent housing crisis and a sharp decline in construction related-employment. Unemployment rates are consistently above the national and state average, peaking during seasons when farm work is not available. This program helps to bring critically needed jobs for local youth and laborers to the San Joaquin Valley, and to direct critical resources toward the river. Funding for this project is provided by a variety of private, state and federal grant programs including the San Joaquin River Restoration Program, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and California Proposition 84.
In 2012, the organizations created four full time and 44 temporary jobs related to weed mapping, permitting, and removal. In 2013, the program will hire additional work crews, temporarily employing over100 workers drawn from the California Conservation Corps, the Local Conservation Corps and other local labor sources. This project is one example of how private organizations are working with the San Joaquin River Restoration Program to create local jobs and to improve the Valley for residents and visitors.
This program is about more than removing weeds along the river. This program seeks to provide jobs to those most in need while also enhancing the quality of life for Valley residents by making our parks and public spaces more useful and accessible. A living river can provide jobs and a place for families, fishermen, and others to recreate and connect with nature.
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