On Friday September 27th, 2013 we held our Grand Opening Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.
The Daily Titan ran a nice news story about the ceremony.
Read the article here: http://www.dailytitan.com/2013/09/oc-conservation-corps-and-charter-school-opens-with-a-ribbon-cutting-ceremony/
On Friday September 27th, 2013 we held our Grand Opening Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.
A new Orange County program is trying to make our waterways and beaches cleaner and safer. Arti Nehru reports.
On Thursday, September 12, 2013 KABC-LA Channel 7 ran a story during their 5 o’clock evening news about the Disney & Wyland sponsored Adopt-A-Channel program. The story described the OCCC’s involvement in working with Disney and OC Public Works to clean up our county’s storm drains.
See the ABC7 broadcast below along with Disney’s blog video of the event and the OC Register’s article about the same subject.
Orange County Register
September 12, 2013
Disney-Anaheim clean-up project goes countywide
By SARAH TULLY
Disneyland Resort officials tried to make sure its water was clean before it ran from the theme parks’ property.
But when the water entered Anaheim’s flood channels, it blended with hypodermic needles, auto parts, dead animals and Cheetos wrappers as it flowed toward the ocean. Spray cans were left behind by taggers, who frequently marked up the slanted, concrete walls a few blocks from Disneyland.
For the past year, Disney has funded a project to remove trash and graffiti along a two-mile stretch of the channel closest to its theme parks.
Today, Disney plans to join with OC Public Works to ask others to do the same.
OC Public Works officially plans to kick off an Adopt-A-Channel program to get the public involved in the county’s 350 miles of flood channels that feed into the Pacific. Much like the Adopt-a-Highway program, businesses, organizations and individuals would sponsor the maintenance of a stretch of a storm-water channel.
“If we can start this one domino going, others can join us,” said Frank Dela Vara, environmental-affairs director for the Disneyland Resort who came with the idea for the pilot project.
Orange County channels
OC Public Works is in charge of managing the watershed system, along with cities, in channels with earthen floors and concrete walls. The main role is to protect human life and property during storms, said the county’s Grant Sharp, manager of the environmental-monitoring section.
But the program is strapped when it comes to dealing with graffiti and pollution, which flows down streets into pipes that feed the channels. Crews will go to scenes, as needed. Each stretch gets one inspection per year before the storm season, Sharp said.
Workers also scrape out trash caught by 12 barriers throughout the county before the ocean.
Some of the debris gets through and can harm the wildlife, said Grace Adams, executive director of the Bolsa Chica Conservancy in Huntington Beach. Bolsa Chica officials have found soccer balls, oil cans and even TV sets in the wetlands.
She’s seen birds with cigarette butts in their mouths. More than 50 species of marketed fish are there.
“If you don’t protect this resource, it affects you and I,” Adams said.
Upstream, miles away in Anaheim, the pilot project aimed to prevent some of that trash from making its way into the ocean.
In June 2012, the Disneyland Resort gave $50,000 to the Orange County Conservancy Corps to help out.
Once a week, usually on Fridays, a few corps members in work boots shuffle down steep concrete walls, bringing grabbers to clinch the trash and toss it in black bags. The corps started with a two-mile stretch a few blocks west of the Disneyland Hotel, running near the Hermosa Village housing complex and Energy Field park.
Crews sometimes go beyond the two-mile area, to the stretch by Lake Intermediate School in Garden Grove where graffiti was rampant. The corps also takes pictures of graffiti and reports it to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s taggers program. About 90 percent of the corps work is painting over graffiti.
Now, less trash and graffiti are in the channel and downstream. Sharp said the Anaheim channel is “virtually free of any issue.”
“The difference is just incredible,” Dela Vara said.
Last week corps members visited a channel near the Boeing Company plant in Huntington Beach, where an inflatable trash barrier catches debris.
Before, said Josh Volp, the corps’ director of operations, the garbage mashed up against the concrete walls. Last week, though, the junk was mostly in a stream in the middle; there were dozens of spray cans, three basketballs and plastic.
“It’s a lot better down here, because a lot of litter picked up there doesn’t come downstream,” Volp said.
Now, the county hopes more people will join the program.
So far, there’s no minimum requirement of funding or help. Scouting troops, individuals and an art gallery already have mentioned that they want to join. Disney will stay involved. The county wants interested parties to come forward, and officials will come up with a program that works for the group, Sharp said.
“We want people’s time and effort and dedication,” Sharp said.
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Join us in celebrating the accomplishments of the Orange County Conservation Corps Charter School’s Class of 2013. This year’s ceremony will be held at Irvine Valley College. The Commencement Address will be delivered by Dr. Michael Worley, President of the Orange County Conservation Corps Charter School Board. There are a limited amount of tickets available. Please contact Jennifer Matas at 714-956-6222 Ext. 301 with any questions.
As of last month, corpsmember Angel Amaro exchanged one Corps for another: the Conservation Corps for the Marine Corps.
He joined the OCCC work experience program in June 2011 after spending about a month at our charter school. He earned his diploma shortly thereafter. While in our program, he also became certified in First Aid/CPR and Chainsaw Operation. He helped restore Caspers Wilderness Park with our National Emergency Grant crew (pictured above), which he said was one of his favorite OCCC experiences. Since then, he has been working in our recycling program. Because of his experience at the OCCC, he said, “I know how to work with people more and how to work with superiors.”
These are important skills, since he wants to pursue a career in the Marines. He wants to enlist because of a “sense of duty,” he said. “With everything going on in the world right now, we need someone to step up. I felt I should do my part.” As for why he chose the Marines: “They’re the best.”
OCCC crews are back on the slopes in San Juan Capistrano. Over the next two years, corpsmembers will continue to improve the 54 acre Open Space area. In 2012, our crews installed a complex irrigation system in the San Juan Watershed and area known as the 2C Ranch. Now, the City of San Juan Capistrano has hired the OCCC to monitor the irrigation system, continue removal of non-native plants and tend to the recent native plantings. The project will improve native habitat, increase water conservation and reduce flood and fire risks.
The OCCC helped educate the next generation of environmentally-minded Orange County citizens at the 2013 Children’s Water Education Festival at UC Irvine on March 27-28. The “largest of its kind in the United States,” the festival has educated more than 95,000 Orange County students over the course of its 17 years.
OCCC corpsmembers manned recycling stations throughout the festival, teaching the kids what to recycle and compost. The OCCC also recycled the donations to the Cans and Bottles for Kids campaign. Classes brought in bags of recyclables to compete for a free Inside the Outdoors Project Zero Waste Traveling Scientist Program, given to the class with the highest number of cans and bottles.
This year, over 7,000 third through fifth-graders attended this free field trip, exploring over 60 booths and activities geared to teach them about water conservation and environmental preservation. From Disney’s Incredible World of Water Chemistry to environmental magic shows to the Litter Bug Relay, there was something exciting for everyone.
Only 40 out of almost 300 applicants were chosen by the Orange County Department of Education to participate in a Gang Intervention Certification Program. Two OCCC staff members ranked among those 40: Program Specialist Esther Landin and Placement and Recruitment Specialist Susan Soria.
The class will learn everything from the dynamics of gang membership to the necessary tools of working with gangs to how to effectively enact prevention and intervention. They will hear guest lecturers and go on field trips to the probation office, juvenile hall and Homeboy Industries. At the end of the 15 week class, Landin and Soria will earn their Gang Intervention Certificates.
Expect to hear more about what they’ve learned once they finish the course.
Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) awarded the OCCC a $10,000 Environmental Education Grant to help connect corpsmembers’ work experience with their classroom learning. We will use the money to create a Habitat Restoration Field Training Manual that will teach corpsmembers to identify native species and how to properly apply herbicide. Then, corpsmembers will be able to come back to school and learn more about concepts learned in the manual and in the field in their science classes. This will make learning come to life for our corpsmembers – thank you SoCalGas!
The California Workforce Association Youth Conference: Defy the Predictable inspired eleven OCCC staff members and 8 corpsmembers with motivating workshops and opportunities to meet people from other organizations.
“The beauty of this conference was that not only was it to discuss theories and ideas, but practical examples from the field,” said Director of Programs Lena Skiba. “Staff members were able to get energized by real life examples of people doing amazing work with youth around the country.”
Program Specialist Veronica Yepez said it was an “excellent, excellent training” and particularly enjoyed the workshop “Balancing the Use of Technology with Face-to-Face Communication.” Program Specialist Alicia Diaz was moved by descriptions throughout the conference of the successful impact of programs similar to the OCCC.
Corpsmembers made the most of the experience by not only attending workshops, but taking turns videotaping as they interviewed staff and participants from other service providers as well as each other. Senior Program Specialist Ralph Jimenez said that corpsmembers found it encouraging to find things in common with participants from the San Jose Conservation Corps. “This experience does make me feel like I’m going somewhere in my life,” said corpsmember Julian Gonzalez as one of his peers interviewed him.
They were “hungry for knowledge,” as Program Specialist Zeara Alvarez noted, so they talked to people from the Santa Barbara Workforce Investment Board, North Orange County ROP and many, many others. Corpsmember Anthony Blancas even got the opportunity to talk to Conference Curator John Baker, who said he loved the “spirit and energy” of the young people at the conference. Our corpsmembers certainly showed theirs.
In interviewing others and fully engaging in the conference, the corpsmembers discovered their own drive. “I’m really proud of being here,” said corpsmember Jorge Giron. “I see myself touching the sky when I’m here.” Way to defy the predictable, Jorge!