Green Team’s focus is environmental education |

Green Team’s focus is environmental education

Sara Thompson / Tahoe Daily TribuneGreen Team members prepare to dive into their cake after graduation. All eight students completed an eight-week job where they organized environmental field trips with Boys & Girls Club of Lake Tahoe kids.

Instead of lounging on the beach, eight South Tahoe High School students spent their summer teaching younger kids about their surroundings.

The students are members of the Green Team, and they led field trips during the summer with groups of three to five elementary school kids. The group learned and then taught the students about the environment.

Community members gathered Thursday for the Green Team’s graduation ceremony.

Some stimulus funding became available to get youth into the workforce, so the Green Team was formed to work at the Boys & Girls Club of Lake Tahoe, said Karen Houser, the club’s executive director.

The students had to help organize field trips and pack the lunches, Houser said.

“These are the kings and queens of PB and Js,” Houser said.

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About $1.3 billion was made available to communities through the federal stimulus package, said Casey O’Neill with the El Dorado County Department of Human Services. Of that, the Boys & Girls Club in conjunction with the Lake Tahoe Unified School District received funds to pay for the Green Team’s supplies and team supervisor.

The students worked a 40-hour week for eight weeks, and were paid through the El Dorado County Workforce Investment Act, Green Team Supervisor Adrian Escobedo said.

When they applied for the grant, Escobedo said he thought he had a couple of weeks to work on the application. O’Neill called him and said that it was due the next day.

“It’s amazing how fast they pulled this all together,” Houser said.

Escobedo said the team had a great summer, with the “biggies” helping out the “littles.”

“Become the leaders of this community, because we are hungry for leaders,” Escobedo said to the Green Team. “Those littles are looking up to you.”

Alex Ortega and Ulysses Tapia said on their first field trip to Fallen Leaf Lake, their small group was very energetic. That was when they realized it must be hard to teach in a classroom with 20 students.

Other field trips included going to South Tahoe Refuse, South Tahoe Public Utility District, the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course to learn about its erosion-control improvements, the Angora burn area, Sierra Nevada College, Sand Harbor, Taylor Creek Visitors Center, Sawmill Pond and the Lake Valley Fire Department.

“If you can see it, touch it, smell it, you’ll remember it,” Escobedo said.

Meeting professional snowboarder Shaun Palmer was one of the highlights the members mentioned during their presentations. Palmer talked about the obstacles he had to overcome to achieve his goals.

Programs like the Green Team need to be pursued in the county, El Dorado County Supervisor Norma Santiago said. El Dorado County is working to expand green technology jobs, and the Green Team helps shape young leaders and give them job skills, she added.

“Maybe one of you will have my job one day,” Santiago said. “As your county supervisor, I’m very, very committed to bringing programs like this to the basin.”