Youth and Ecological Restoration Program
Helping vulnerable youth build healthy community relationships with both the human and natural worlds.
Through restoring local watersheds with community members,
youth gain a sense of worth, belonging and place.
YERI is a 20-hour program providing one-on-one work experience, training and support for youth aged twelve to eighteen who are experiencing challenges connecting with school, community and employment.
Youth work with community members to restore the environmental health of local watersheds. Worksite transportation, homemade lunch, work tools and wet weather gear are all supplied.
Ecological restoration activities include salmon enhancement, habitat restoration, watershed assessment and monitoring, and community environmental education. Youth gain employment experience, build personal confidence, and improve communication and life skills, while learning about local watersheds and ecosystems.
YERI can be used to fulfill school work experience programs and complete community service hours. On completion the youth give an oral presentation for a community group about their experience. Youth are awarded with a YERI certificate and crest; a letter of reference; and receive fifty dollars ($50).
YERI – Over 260 youth from 2004 to 2015.
YERII entry requirement is that youth have graduated from YERI, and they are genuinely motivated to build on skills gained in the original program. Two YERI graduates, the YER coordinator and a community member all work together to further instill teamwork and cooperation practices.
The focus is on a specific environmental project for advanced learning about ecological information, research techniques, and collaboration and communication skills.
Examples of YERII projects include: radio tracking summer chinook salmon in the Puntledge River; conducting salmon population estimates in Millard Creek rearing channel; conducting ecological inventory in Melda’s Marsh in Seal Bay Park; establishing surface and groundwater monitoring stations in the headwaters of Millard Creek.
YERII completion involves the two youth leading a public tour of the project site. On conclusion the youth achieve a YERII certificate and hooded jacket, a letter of reference and fifty dollars ($50).
YERII – Over 30 youth from 2007 to 2015.
YER was originally funded in July 2004 through Queen Alexandra Foundation for Children. The guiding principles recognized that each community has unique characteristics, knowledge and experience to address prevention and early intervention for vulnerable youth. Criteria included providing integrated and collaborative services that support community capacity to build healthy relationships. YER is considered one of their most successful projects.
From April 2006 to the present time YER has been funded by the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development. Many youth participants asked to repeat the program, so there was a need to develop an extension. In 2007 YER Phase II funding came from the Vancouver Foundation’s Children, Youth and Families Advisory Committee. YERII provides youth with an opportunity to build on the skills and experiences they gained in YERI. The YER vision is to engage youth in a wider circle of community relationships, in both the human and natural worlds. Involving them with meaningful work and caring adults supports them in building self esteem and has the ability to transform their lives. In YER, youth travel a journey together with their community and experience a better relationship with the people and place called home.
YER continues to build community partnerships, creating a cornerstone for the program and its youth participants. These partnerships have been instrumental in developing a solid foundation of support for YER within the Comox Valley community, as well as building bridges, alliances and awareness between local groups and individuals. YER services have now benefited over 130 community groups including youth referral agencies, environmental stewardship organizations, service clubs and individual schools. Community Partnerships have increased to 136 (from July 2004 to August 2014).