Friday, April 18, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Helping hands come to Sly Park

DSC_9544

ALEXA ROSSINI, an Americorps member, joins a group of students on a nature hike on Jan. 24 at the Sly Park Environmental Center in Pollock Pines.

By
From page A1 | February 04, 2013 | 3 Comments

They’ve come from all over the United States — nine young people  from AmeriCorps National Community Civilian Corps who want to help — and the Sly Park Environmental Education Center is lucky enough to be their hosts. Team leader Sam Strazynski, 26, said, “We do projects all over the United States in many different capacities: working with kids, fire management teams, building houses, cleaning up streams,removing invasive species of plants, disaster response, roadwork —whatever needs need to be met.”

The NCCC, modeled after the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s, is a national service program. Young people from the ages of 18-24 serve a 10-month commitment on four different service projects. They work in teams of 8-12 and receive $5,500 to help pay for college or to pay back existing student loans at the completion of their 10-month commitment, as well as a living allowance and housing during their service. They receive training in CPR, first-aid, public safety, and in other skills they may need to use.

The team at Sly Park has been there since Jan. 9 and will remain another eight weeks, chaperoning children at the outdoor education center, assisting teachers, guiding hikes and maintaining the cabins, trails and park areas. “This is our second round,” said Strazynski, who was a corps member in 2008 and returned in 2012 as a team leader. “In December we were at the Salton Sea State Recreation Area helping to refurbish the park — doing roadwork, clearing brush and trimming trees, cleaning up campsites. Our Pacific region of the NCCC does a lot of environmental projects.”

The team at Sly Park is very diverse: some are right out of high school, others have graduated from college. Some are from the Job Corps. Members are from Chicago, Maryland, Pennsylvania, the Midwest, Oregon and the U.S. Virgin Islands. “We become Jack of all trades, learning how to hang drywall, use power tools, work with children. The experience is challenging, but valuable,” said Strazynski.

As students from the three schools spending a week at SPEEC gather around the stone circle outside to hear what they are doing next, some of the team members split up to assist each group. Other team members, like Allison Farnham, 22, and Robert Garza, 21, are using a chop saw to cut “tree cookies” — thin rounds of cedar branches that will be drilled with a hole and turned into necklace souvenirs for the students. For Garza, from Florida, the cold Pollock Pines weather is an eye opener, but he is finding the whole NCCC experience very rewarding and the Eldorado National Forest beautiful.

Farnham, a recent college graduate in recreation and tourism, is on maintenance duty this week. She finished digging out drainage trenches only moments before the rain started. “I didn’t know what to expect, but I’ve learned so many skills and I’m really in my element. It’s a challenge to adjust to a team lifestyle after living on my own in college, but everything we do is so amazing. I’m excited to see where we go next.” Farnham is from Minnesota.

Amran Nero, 22, from the U.S. Virgin Islands, is on the West Coast for the first time. “To see the Pacific is a great thing and to go from 220 feet below sea level to 3,600 above sea level is very different,” said Nero as he prepares to shepherd a group of students to Park Creek. “It’s very green here with a lot of snow on the ground when we arrived.”

Nero likes the service aspect of NCCC saying, “I like giving back.”

SPEEC’s new principal, Matt Smith, is working with the NCCC for the second time, but different teams have been coming during the winter for the past three years, including a team that preceded Strazynski’s team. “Schools bring their students for a week and many of the schools we work with are low income. They have a hard time getting chaperones. The students are very diverse and so are the teams. They add energy and spirit. They are a great addition and help,” said Smith.

Organizations like SPEEC apply to AmeriCorps to host a NCCC team and detail the project they need help with. “Here they work as cabin leaders, teacher’s assistants, building trails — the earlier team built our souvenir shed,” said Smith. “They are so involved and connected with the kids that they have a huge impact on the students. They are also a great example for the kids.”

NCCS teams must be flexible and adaptable.

“Things change so rapidly,” said Strazynski.”We have to be able to roll with it.” When his team graduated from training four months ago, they were told they would be going to the East Coast to help  with the Hurricane Sandy disaster; instead they were sent to the Salton Sea. “It’s so important to have a good attitude because you’re faced with a challenging year,” said Straynski. “How you respond is where the leadership and character comes in.”

Alexa Rossini, another NCCC team member, ducks into a classroom to pull out ponchos and rain gear for students to wear on an hour-and-a-half-long hike to Park Creek in the steady rain.

“We go out to learn in all kinds of weather,” said Smith. “Rain or shine, even in snow, we still meet in our groups and go out to learn about composting, environmental stewardship, hydrology, geology, trees, how to build shelters and how to survive in the wilderness.”

Between project rounds, each of which can last six to 11 weeks, NCCC teams meet for a week of transition and debriefing. They get any extra training they might need for the next project and spend some time talking about how they can utilize their experiences in their future. Strazynski, who has served on the Gulf Coast after Hurricanes Ike and Gustav, building a community center in Green River, Utah and at the Catalina Island Conservancy, said, “This is a great program and we’re doing some great things.”

For more information about NCCC, visit the Website at americorps.gov/nccc. The Pacific Regional Campus is located in Sacramento and serves eight states in the southwest.

For more information about the Sly Park Environmental Education Center, call 916 228-2485 or visit the Website at scoe.net/slypark/education.

Contact Wendy Schultz at 530-344-5069 or wschultz@mtdemocrat.net. Follow @WSchultzMtDemo.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 3 comments

  • francescaduchamp@att.netFebruary 04, 2013 - 8:24 am

    These are wonderful groups of young people.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • cookie65February 04, 2013 - 9:23 am

    Learning marketable skills.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Katherine MitchellFebruary 10, 2013 - 12:49 pm

    I support this team from home by sending encouraging letters and packages. I know first hand they are a special group of young adults. Please continue to support Americorp and our youth who serve in this capacity.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

News

Goodbye LUPPU, hello LRPU

By Chris Daley | From Page: A1, 2 Comments

 
Past due state taxes bring arrest

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1, 8 Comments

 
Sanford trial: Prosecution, defense rest

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Woman, dog back from Oso

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: A1, 7 Comments | Gallery

 
 
 
DA candidate to remain on ballot

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A9

Dog talk with Uncle Matty: Benji and the Bickersons

By Matthew Margolis | From Page: A10

 
CPCSD seat unfilled

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A14, 1 Comment

Lew Uhler backs Ranalli

By News Release | From Page: A14, 5 Comments

 
.

Letters

District 4 candidate

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7, 8 Comments

 
Open meetings

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7, 5 Comments

Volunteers and homeless camps

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7, 22 Comments

 
Bicycle events and traffic control

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7, 5 Comments

Evacuation

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7, 3 Comments

 
.

Sports

Savannah Stephens can swing the bat

By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
King of the West roars into Placerville

By Gary Thomas | From Page: A11

First and goal: Bunt etiquette

By Mike Bush | From Page: A11

 
Oak Ridge suffers tough 2-1 setback

By Mike Bush | From Page: A11

Jennings wins national title

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A11, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Roundup: April 17, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A12 | Gallery

.

Prospecting

Plantastic sale this Saturday

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Spring art brightens government center

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Things to do: April 18, 2014

By Democrat Calendar | From Page: B2

 
Time out: A grand time at Grand China

By Earle Camembert | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Temple Kol Shalom hosts Passover Seder

By News Release | From Page: B3

 
Student art featured for Third Saturday

By News Release | From Page: B3

Promenade in high style

By Historic Old Sacramento | From Page: B4

 
Sac State Presents ‘Gypsy’

By California State Unversity, Sacramento | From Page: B4

Friday nights are engaging at the de Young

By Fine Arts | From Page: B5

 
Hats On For the Kids raises money for children

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B6

See what is inside the vault

By Center For Sacramento History | From Page: B6

 
Eggstravaganza

By Fairytale Town | From Page: B6

Gallery tips a hat to Dr. Seuss

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B7

 
Museum presents ‘Diesel Days’

By California State Railroad Museum | From Page: B7

Engagement: Adam Frega and Wednesday Bienusa

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B8

 
Duty: Air Force Airman Brian Polk

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B8

Cal Stage presents a season of challenging productions

By California Stage | From Page: B8

 
Duty: Army Pfc. Kyle W. Beasy

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B8

KVIE calls for artists

By Kvie | From Page: B9

 
A Couple of Blaguards tell tales

By Harris Center for the Arts | From Page: B9

America’s ClayFest II celebrates a rich history

By Blue Line Arts | From Page: B14

 
Fine Arts Museums feature two shows

By Fine Arts | From Page: B15

See wildflowers on train ride

By Railtown | From Page: B15

 
Easter at Northstar is family friendly

By Northstar California | From Page: B15

.

Essentials

Crime Log: March 28-30

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

 
.

Obituaries

Arthur W. Cornell

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
Frank “Bud” Kraus Jr.

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Roy Cluness Chaix

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
Frederick Wilbur Heymann

By Contributor | From Page: A2

.

Real Estate

Faster sales with spring staging

By Ken Calhoon | From Page: HS4

 
Coldwell Banker outsells the competition

Press Release | From Page: HS7

Handsome Redmond suits modern families

Press Release | From Page: HS11

 
Growing your own

By Marni Jameson | From Page: HS14

 
Fraud workshop scheduled

Press Release | From Page: HS21

HCD launches assistance program

Press Release | From Page: HS22, 1 Comment

 
EZ Mortgages Inc. opens Placerville office

By News Release | From Page: HS22, 2 Comments

.

Comics

Speed Bump

By Contributor | From Page: A13

 
Working It Out

By Contributor | From Page: A13

Shoe

By Contributor | From Page: A13

 
Rubes

By Contributor | From Page: A13

Tundra

By Contributor | From Page: A13

 
TV Listings

By Contributor | From Page: A13

Sudoku

By Contributor | From Page: A13

 
New York Times Crossword

By Contributor | From Page: A14

Horoscope, Sunday, April 20, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A14

 
Horoscope, Saturday, April 19, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A14

Horoscope, Friday, April 18, 2104

By Contributor | From Page: A14

 
.

Home Source

Faster sales with spring staging

By Ken Calhoon | From Page: HS4

Coldwell Banker outsells the competition

Press Release | From Page: HS7

Handsome Redmond suits modern families

Press Release | From Page: HS11

Growing your own

By Marni Jameson | From Page: HS14

Fraud workshop scheduled

Press Release | From Page: HS21

HCD launches assistance program

Press Release | From Page: HS22, 1 Comment

EZ Mortgages Inc. opens Placerville office

By News Release | From Page: HS22, 2 Comments