Volunteering for Rockland’s Environment

BY BARRY WARNER

Americorps volunteers waiting to make their summer 2012 presentations

At the end of last summer volunteers from the Rockland County Americorps Environmental Corps, a program of the Rockland County Youth Bureau, met at the Rockland County Legislative Chambers to present their accomplishments.

The Rockland County Americorps Environmental Corps program mobilizes young people in Rockland, aged 17 and up, to engage in environmental community activities such as neighborhood beautification, trails maintenance, and recycling efforts.

Those accepted into the program are placed at different sites around the county, such as at the Rockland County Solid Waste Management Authority, the Cornell Cooperative Extensive, and many others. There, they serve 300 hours from June until August.

For the duration of the summer they receive a $2,000 living stipend, and upon completion of their 300 hours, they also receive an education award of $1,132. These awards can only be redeemed towards the costs of education, such as tuition fees or student loans.

“The power of the youth voice is evident today,” said Kathy Galione, Rockland Americorps Project Coordinator, “About 400 alumni have gone through the program and they are the individuals who have gained core values and will be running our social programs, as well as the county departments in the future.”

Youth Bureau Project Coordinator Kathy Galione, presenting a certificate to Rebecca Zittell for her work this summer

Past participants in the Environmental Corps program have talked about experiencing that “Aha!” moment, when they realize that what they are doing has purpose and direction. The volunteers also gain a sense of self-fulfillment, while building friendships and earning money for school.

“Americorps is a domestic peace corps and the participants do so much for the county,” said Harriet Cornell, Chairwoman of the Rockland County Legislature.

Participation in Rockland County Americorps Environmental Corps is a great way for participants to explore career interests, bolster resumes, network in the environmental field and commit to serving the community.

For more information or to apply for the Environmental Corps this fall, contact Kathy Galione at (845) 708-7307 or e-mail rcamericorps@co.rockland.ny.us