Bay Youth for the Environment

 
 

Status: Active Start Date: 2004

In 1977, San Francisco’s Bayview Hunter’s Point community became the home of Candlestick Point State Recreation Area – California’s first urban state park. Although local residents fought to protect this area for use by future generations, the park could not escape the industrial pollution that plagues the entire community of Bayview Hunter’s Point. The area’s once thriving wetlands, wildlife, and fisheries have been severely damaged due to landfill, soil erosion, industrial contamination, non-point source pollution, wastewater overflows, and illegal dumping.  High school drop out-out rates as well as unemployment rates are approximately double the average for San Francisco. Access to and involvement with a vibrant urban park is critical to improving people’s lives and restoring the spirit of this underserved community.

In 2004, the California State Parks Foundation launched the Bay Youth for the Environment Program in partnership with youth empowerment and advocacy group Literacy for Environmental Justice (LEJ). It is a unique urban park revitalization and community stewardship program at Candlestick Point State Recreation Area in southeastern San Francisco. The three main goals of BYE are to provide local youth with rigorous environmental training and work opportunities, build community involvement, as well as create a successful urban park stewardship model that can be adopted by urban communities and state parks throughout California.

Bay Youth for the Environment gives high-school aged youth as well as community volunteers the opportunity to get involved with a landmark, 34 acre wetland restoration project at Candlestick Point State Recreation Area that will restore the largest contiguous wetlands area in the county of San Francisco.  Under the guidance of trained staff, students are collecting native plant seeds and are growing up to 10,000 plants for the restoration at the CPSRA garden, an onsite community greenhouse and nursery planned and maintained by LEJ in partnership with California State Parks. The youth team currently works year-round (48 weeks per year) up to six hours per week.  In addition to exposure to horticulture and wetlands ecology systems, group decision-making, public speaking and work-related skills and, the encouragement to pursue academic and career goals, each student receives $12/hour. 

The program is supported through grants from Adobe Foundation, S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, Walter and Elise Haas Fund, the California State Coastal Conservancy, TJ Long Foundation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 9 San Francisco Bay Water Quality Improvement Fund/San Francisco Estuary Partnership, William Randolph Hearst Foundation, J.M. Long Foundation and CSPF. 

To learn more about Bay Youth for the Environment, please contact Cecille Caterson at cecille@calparks.org or by calling 415-262-4406.