IMPERIAL COUNTY – The California Conservation Corps (CCC) is a non-profit state department dedicated to protecting the environment through young adults. The agency was created in 1976 to maintain California’s environment and natural resources and is open to those between the ages of 18-25 and veterans up to age 29.
Imperial Valley has several participants in the current program, but there is a need for more people to join the agency. Participants will spend one year serving the CCC as they focus on projects for water conservation, energy efficiency, trail work, fire hazard reduction, and restoration of natural habitats.
Five crews are dedicated to water conservation efforts, in which they repair irrigation and plant drought-tolerant vegetation. Water conservation programs are located in Fresno, Napa, Stockton, Norwalk, and San Bernardino.
Fire hazard reduction projects include thinning forests to improve the overall health of the forest, and to reduce risks of forest fires.
David Ceja, a conservation corps recruiter, said the agency has been conducting outreach programs in Imperial County for the past year, and approximately 50 local young adults joined the program.
“From building trails, planting trees, fire fuel reduction and responding to emergencies, we know that there are not a whole lot of opportunities in the Valley, but I believe that the CCC can impact and mark the lives of youth in the Valley,” said Ceja.
The CCC has 10 energy crews dedicating efforts to make schools and public facilities more energy efficient through audits and retrofitting.
In addition to the protection and maintenance of California’s environment, Ceja pointed out the importance of having young adults involved in the program.
“We are truly a successful work development program — not just showing them how to work, but we help infuse in them soft skills they need to land a job, leadership training, career development classes and more,” said Ceja.
Ceja encouraged young adults in Imperial Valley who have a passion for conserving California’s environment to join the CCC. He said he hopes to teach more young adults how to help the environment, while also learning important skills to further them in their careers, relationships, and communities.
For more information, the California Conservation Corps website is ccc.ca.gov