Climate Corps Leadership internship program set to receive $300,000
WATSONVILLE – Environmental nonprofit Watsonville Wetlands Watch has been selected by the California Natural Resources Agency to receive a $300,000 grant – funded by California’s revenue from cannabis taxes.
The funds will be used to grow the organization’s Climate Corps Leadership Institute internship program, which aims to cultivate and empower a new generation of environmental stewards in Watsonville.
Californians who took to the polls in 2014 and voted to legalize cannabis are largely to thank for the investment. As a result of Proposition 64, some cannabis tax dollars are allocated to fund youth wellness initiatives in underserved regions, or communities of color, such as Watsonville. Watsonville Wetlands is one of 65 California-based organizations funded through the inaugural grants.
Corps members, who are paid high school students, work on various wetland restoration and habitat revitalization projects, said Watsonville Wetlands Watch Outreach Director Brooke Sampson. The program is in its second year.
“For youth here in Watsonville to be able to really connect with this amazing ecosystem we have – the six interconnected sloughs, one of the largest remaining wetlands in California – being a part of restoring it … it’s really critical for climate resilience and our community,” Sampson said.
Those participating in the Wetlands Watch internship also spend time rehabilitating local greenspace at Pajaro Valley Unified School District campuses as well as planting trees at the Watsonville Community Forest. Over the course of the internship, which spans two years, second-year students receive further training at environmental internships within local government offices and businesses, Sampson explained.
The state grant means that 60 Watsonville-based high school students will be able to join the climate corps in the next three years.
“It’s a great opportunity for the students to take on this huge challenge of climate change and to gain practical skills, knowledge and experience, so that they have concrete avenues ahead of them, in their career, or as community members and advocates making a difference,” Sampson said.