Learn the value of getting your hands dirty

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By Special to the Monitor

Registration for the 10th annual Y Earth Service (YES) Corps is open at The Family YMCA. The YES Corps program is available to youth ages 11-17.  Participants have an opportunity to engage with leadership, cross-cultural awareness and environmental education and action projects, while learning invaluable job skills and work ethics.

Whether walking through a sun-drenched garden or wandering a shady city sidewalk, participants make connections through every step, every movement and every breath. The conversations, the food, the clothes, the activities all grow from young people’s relationships to where they live. Yet most people are unaware of their interconnectedness with the world, with the life all around them. The YES Corps provides an opportunity to connect with the local community and landscape and through that connection, a chance to cultivate friendships and new perspectives. Taylor Stark, a previous YES Corps participant, reflected on his first summer of service in 2007, and said, “It just made me realize that something so little can have a big effect on a community … and it made me feel better about myself, that I helped in some way.”

Angelique Castillo, another YES Corps youth, touched on one impact of service, and said, “You can relate better when you’re working together.”

Her brother, Alex Castillo elaborated on this idea. “I think I’m engaged in different ways when I’m around other people than when I’m by myself,” he said.

YES Corps is a national program where teens across the country identify local environmental issues while working collaboratively to engage participants in community action. Locally, volunteer service, environmental education and work experience is combined into a program that focuses on trail improvement, landscaping, watershed restoration, fire ecology, organic gardening, groupwork, mentoring and creative projects. The supervised program includes CPR and First Aid certification, training and safety seminars, and educational and enrichment workshops.

The YES Corps summer program, a partnership between the Family YMCA, Los Alamos County, and other agencies, organizations and businesses, begins June 1 and ends Aug. 5. Participants can work from 8 a.m.-noon Monday through Thursday. The fee is $155 for YMCA members and $282 for non- members.

The YES Corps offers First Aid/CPR certification, and participants will be eligible for The President’s Volunteer Service Award. For more information, contact YES Corps Director Sylvan Argo at 662-3100 or at adventure@laymca.org.