Job Corps marks Earth Week

STOCKTON – Cassadaga Job Corps Academy students marked Earth Week by improving their own environment on campus as well as by volunteering in the larger community.

According to Adam Dolce, Business and Community Liaison, the week was filled with activity.

The first activity was a centerwide cleanup.

“The grounds take a beating in the winter and the cleanup gave the campus a needed boost. It was neat to see the kids working to make the grounds better,” he said. “They did a great job.”

The students have also been trying to reduce paper waste on campus, and studying ways to accomplish this. A gardening project will be offered as a dorm activity to further beautify the Cassadaga campus.

Cassadaga Job Corps students often volunteer in the local community. In line with the Earth Week theme, a group staffed a trash pickup day in the Town of Stockton.

Vicki Yonkers, a Stockton resident employed as Career Transitional Specialist at Cassadaga Job Corps Academy, was instrumental in organizing and supervising volunteers from the center to help clean ditches on several of the town’s roads.

Dressed in a neon green hoodie and jeans with boots on her feet, Yonkers pitched in while joking with the students and motivating them to work.

“There’s nothing around here,” said one young man who was not used to a rural country road with very little traffic.

“We have to work if we want to eat lunch,” Yonkers reminded them.

While there wasn’t much traffic, the students did find more than enough trash. They moved some discarded tires so that Highway Supervisor, Aaron Burnett could come through with a truck and remove them. Using gardening tools, the crew removed litter and garbage as well as growth from the ditches.

Burnett termed the day’s work a success. “I got more than a pick-up load of tires, and we had half a dump truck load of garbage bags. The kids worked very hard. Vicki (Yonkers) puts her heart into those kids, and sees things in them that others might miss.”

A field trip to Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve and Environmental Education Center in Cheektowaga allowed students to make a difference for the environment on an even larger scale. In addition to learning more about the natural world by touring the site, Job Corps is also participating in the Garlic Mustard Challenge. Garlic mustard is an invasive plant species that hurts the health of the forest. It can dominate the undergrowth of some forests and reduce the number of other native plants. The best way to remove it is by hand.

Student groups were challenged to remove garlic mustard from the center from April through June. The amounts removed will be measured and the group that picks the most will win a prize.

According to Dolce, Job Corps hopes to take more trips to Reinstein Woods.

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