The Student Conservation Association Northwest Programs
SCA was launched in the Northwest when some of the first SCA volunteers reported for service at Olympic National Park more than 50 years ago. Since then over 75,000 members have provided more than 30 million hours of conservation service nationwide – protecting wildlife, restoring habitats, curating historic sites and more in national parks, forests, and urban green spaces.
In the Northwest, SCA provides conservation service opportunities for hundreds of young adults at Mount Rainier and North Cascades National Parks, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, San Juan Islands National Historic Park, Ebey's Landing National Historic Reserve and many other federal, state and municipal public lands, open spaces and urban farms.
SCA's Seattle Community Program connects high school-aged youth from all backgrounds with their local environment, providing work experience, career skills and job readiness training. Students also gain leadership capabilities, strengthen their self-confidence and esteem, and embrace an enduring ethic of stewardship. Strategically built as a graduated continuum, SCA's Seattle Community Program provides progressive levels of participation, challenge and growth.
SCA's National Conservation Crews allow high school age students to serve on a month-long summer volunteer crew, maintaining and restoring trails and restoring habitats on public lands. Crews from around the country live and work in the backcountry doing hands-on work and learning outdoor skills.
SCA's Conservation Internships and Corps are geared toward college-age and older volunteers who want to gain valuable on-the-job experience by working alongside experienced natural resource management staff.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
The Seattle Community Program is a school year and summer program that engages 150 students each year. Summer participants are paid to allow equitable participation regardless of family income, and to provide a realistic alternative to a summer job. These youth learn and work in an intensive program that explores conservation through four initiatives: food systems; habitat; water quality; and climate change. Each focus area is explored through Civic-Engagement, Leadership Opportunities, Equity & Diversity, and Career-Development. Youth members provide local parks and public spaces with hundreds of conservation service hours.
In 2014, high school-aged youth in the Seattle Community Program directly benefited local communities by maintaining parks, supporting volunteer-run urban farms, and by providing habitat restoration. In the summer season alone, 86 youth spent a total of hundreds of hours of environmental education, worked on over 7,100 hours of hands-on service projects, and spent almost 500 hours learning job-readiness skills.
A successful new initiative was piloted in the summer of 2014. SCA recruited two hearing impaired youth from the Edmonds area. The youth were accompanied by American Sign Language Interpreters and were active and enthusiastic participants throughout the summer. SCA will continue to recruit deaf and hard of hearing youth for summer programming in pursuit of its mission to create a diverse new generation of conservation leaders.
This local program is supported almost entirely by charitable donations, since many of the agency and non-profit partners are not able to provide funding for the service projects.