Yes, you can make a difference!

 

Jeremy Terhune,  Defenders of Wildlife, with John Morearty

Good news from Washington: Ken Salazar, Obama’s very capable Secretary of the Interior, wants to provide opportunities to at-risk youth by training them in “green collar jobs.”

Stockton sure needs that. We have foreclosures, the highest per capita crime rate in the U.S., and we suffer from dreadful drop-our rates in our public schools. We have an environmental crisis, plus a crisis with our youth-they are the canaries in the coal mine.

San Joaquin County will probably be over 50% Latino by 2012, and a disproportionate number of Latino youth drop out of our schools, and end up in the infamous Playground to Prison Pipeline.

Instead of joining gangs and doing drugs, why aren’t these kids being introduced to the Delta ecosystem, and the two amazing rivers running through our town? Our water is a mighty resource-but our young people are our greatest resource.

More good news: there are local grassroots efforts to help our youth use their gifts and powers, to grow into stewards and caretakers of our beautiful valley’s landscapes and watersheds.

Here’s a recent success:

On Saturday February 21st, 240 community members boated, biked, and dragged trash out of the Calaveras River all day; they filled up two big dumpsters. It was Friends of the Lower Calaveras River (FLCR) First Annual Polar Bear Clean-up, sponsored by Defenders of Wildlife, and organized by Fishery Foundation biologist Kari Burr. She said,

The community came together. The city of Stockton and Mayor’s office provided dumpsters, bags and gloves, the County provided organizational support and contacted the Fire Department, Sheriff and Stockton Police. PG&E supplied the water, the Fire department helped keep boaters safe, Roy Hoggard donated food for the BBQ. Roger Kelly operated a back hoe donated by DSS.

Following the clean-up, the local office of California Sport Fishing alliance hosted a free BBQ and fabulous concert by the bands Snap Jackson and Knock on Wood Players.

Volunteers came from all over: Many local high schools, University of Pacific, PG&E, Friends of the Lower Calaveras River, Boy scout troops, Pacific Rowing club, Stockton Sailing Club ladies kayak group, and several community members who learned about the event through the Stockton Record.

Secretary Salazar, President Obama, bring on the green collar jobs! San Joaquin County’s  young people are ready and eager to wade in.

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