California Consortium Youth Shine In Banquet And On The Trail

  • By Jonar Rodrigo, Acting Southern California Consortium Director, Angeles National Forest, Pacific Southwest Region
A large group of youth and adults gather on a stage in an auditorium. Youth pose for the camera showing their award certificates. Youth pose for the camera showing their award certificates. Youth pose for the camera showing their award certificates. Youth pose for the camera showing their award certificates. A man and woman pose with an award certificate. A girl speaks behind a podium while youth stand nearby listening. A man speaks behind a podium.A group of youth climb on top of a large downed tree sitting in a stream surrounded by ferns in a forest.
Youth stand with backpacks on a trail with a lake behind them.

L to R: Alondra Nieto, a student at John Muir High School in Pasadena, California, Joshua Gonzalez and Danielle Estrada, students at Anahuacalmecac International Preparatory High School of North America in Los Angeles, were featured on the Yosemite National Park Instagram page, which received more than 12,000 Likes. (Courtesy photo by Audubon Magazine)

Two men pose for the camera showing an award certificate.

Dr. Lawton Grey, left, John Muir High School principal receives a certificate of appreciation from USDA Forest Service's Jonar Rodrigo, Outreach, Recruitment and Workforce Diversity Program Acting Director, Southern California Consortium.(Courtesy photo by David Herman, SCC Volunteer)

Recently the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region’s Outreach, Recruitment and Workforce Diversity Program (ORWD) celebrated its interns and partnerships at a few locations. The program includes the California Consortium, which is made up of the Northern, Central and Southern Consortium, a Mentoring Program and a Recruitment Team. The program supports a Generation Green program, which focus on environmental education, outreach and recruitment, at the kindergarten through employment levels. Overall, the program seeks to serve as a bridge between the agency and underserved communities. It promotes the Forest Service as an employer of choice and serves as a partner providing resources such as employment opportunities, environmental education and more.

SCC Leadership Camp Banquet Award Ceremony

The regional program had its 22nd annual award ceremony in Clovis, California, in August 2018, which highlighted interns throughout the region and major partnerships, including the Water Resource Institute Program, Mobilize Green and more. The NCC held two award ceremonies in August with one in Sacramento and another in Willows, California, to celebrate local interns and partnerships. In early October the SCC celebrated the commemoration of the 2018 Annual Leadership Camp with a banquet in Arcadia, California. The NCC and the CCC coordinated a similar leadership in Sacramento. In order to gain leadership skills the students of these camps staff the local fair events with exhibits to help educate the public on fire safety, fire prevention and how to be a good steward of the land. Each of these events were well attended and filled with amazing testimonials from the youth sharing their personal experiences. They showed leadership, growth, and passion to care for our natural resources. 

Words of Encouragement

Jennifer Eberlien, deputy regional forester for the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region, thanked all of the interns at the ceremony for their valuable contributions and encouraged them to consider the Forest Service as a career option. She shared inspiring words, which included her personal story and tips to have a successful career.

Lily Ramos Nieves, acting ORWD program manager stated, “For over 22 years, the program has worked to engage, empower, and employ talented and diverse youth. It’s amazing to see them embracing their roles as stewards of the land. The future of our agency looks bright!”

“The Forest Service and Generation Green Program has helped me transition from high school through college and into the professional workforce. I’m so lucky to have had the opportunity to volunteer, work and experience the outdoors,” said NCC Intern Christian Garcia, who has been a member of the NCC Generation Green program since the age of 15 and a recent graduate from Chico State.

James Oftedal, regional program manager, served as the SCC’s banquet keynote speaker. He shared how being resilient helped him win his battle with cancer.

“Never give up on your dreams…no matter what the circumstances. Be resilient, work hard and stay focused. Trust me, you have what it takes to succeed.”

Cassandra Gutierrez, a senior at Benjamin Franklin High School, shared, “The [Los Angeles] County Fair is one of the few programs that shows students what it truly means to be a leader. It really pushed me to develop the necessary life skills and mechanisms to manage work and the stress that comes with it."

During these events, many interns, parents, volunteers, school administrators and Forest Service leaders shared words of great appreciation for the program. It is clear that the program is making a positive impact in the agency and in the community. 

Magazine Highlights Generation Green Youth

Thanks to the Forest Service’s Generation Green program, sponsored by the California Consortium, SCC youth had the opportunity to embark on a five day backpacking expedition in Yosemite National Park’s Hetch Hetcy Reservoir. While exploring its natural resources the students were photographed for an article in Audubon Magazine’s Summer 2018 edition and also featured on the parks Instagram page, which received over 12,000 Likes.

“If it weren't for Generation Green, I would have never known that beautiful places like this even existed. The more time I spend in nature, the better I feel about myself and want to help the environment,”—Joshua Gonzalez, a senior at Anahuacalmecac International Preparatory High School.

This opportunity is a prime example of some of the life changing experiences Generation Green has to offer youth from underserved and under-represented communities in the great outdoors.

“It’s so great seeing youth from the neighborhood I grew up in spending time and enjoying nature,” said Jonar Rodrigo, SCC acting program manager. “It’s an even greater feeling knowing that I helped make that connection for them. Hearing their stories continues to inspire me. It's rewarding to see them develop leadership skills and gain so much personal growth."