.Green Scene: Ecology Center’s Youth Environmental Academy

A local green movement has probably flourished in the East Bay since the area’s inception, but from 1969 onward many of the initiatives to make the world a better, greener place have come from Berkeley’s Ecology Center. 

A nonprofit organization focused on improving the health and mitigating the ill effects of environmental impacts upon urban residents, the center’s many services include everything from organizing local farmers’ markets and residential curbside recycling programs to  classes, workshops, a seed library and a store for sustainable living, among many other offerings.

As the Ecology Center’s event coordinator, Cynthia Murdough, told the East Bay Express last May, though global issues like climate change can overwhelm, there are many everyday things everyone can do “to inspire and build a sustainable, healthy and just future for the East Bay, California and beyond.”

One of those everyday things is actively educating the next generation to be environmentally-friendly through the Ecology Center’s Youth Environmental Academy (YEA). 

The academy is a green-themed leadership development program for young people ages 15 to 24 and provides structured, paid internships for youth to “earn and learn” while developing a deep knowledge base that includes “Health, Food Systems, Food Justice and Sustainable Agriculture,” “Alternative Energy,” “Climate Change, “Water Conservation” and “Waste Management and Recycling.”  

YEA participants “earn and learn” all of the above within a variety of opportunities, progressing through positions of greater increasing responsibility and leadership. In short, Youth Scholars become Youth Interns who become Youth Program Assistants. But more to the point, the young participants become stewards and ambassadors for the world they will inherit from their parents—a world, though problematic, that still has hope.

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