Scott Graves
Curry Coastal Pilot

More than 300 people celebrated the hard work, activities and accomplishments of hundreds of Del Norte County youth during the July 19 Summer By Design Showcase in Crescent City hosted by Building Healthy Communities (BHC).

During the event guest speaker state Sen. Mike McGuire asked students to stand up and be recognized.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we need to give them a loud and proud round of applause and show them how proud Del Norte County is of them. Let’s give it up for the students.” McGuire said.

He went on to recognize the collaboration among BHC, Wild Rivers Community Foundation, organizations, businesses and individuals to create a variety of activities and projects for youth.

“The way this county steps up time and time again to support its young leaders is truly amazing,” McGuire said. “We are a community that is stronger when we support young leaders. What has always driven me is knowing that we can and knowing that we must do better for our young people.”

The “Summer By Design” program, funded by a grant from the California Endowment, involved multiple community partners to provide youth ages 5 to 24 with opportunities to fill their summer days with fun, educational activities and hands-on career exploration.

During the showcase, members of BHC’s Youth Training Academy, which served nearly 100 youth in 10th grade through age 24, discussed their projects, which focused on issues such as community organizing and leadership, ecotourism, community food gardens and local health care. Students who finished the program received a $500 stipend.

“When I first started the program I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do career-wise, but now it’s very clear,” said Savannah Isbell, a second-year YTA student in the Early Childhood Education pathway. “This year we became certified to perform CPR for children and adults. We are also trained to be mandated reporters.”

Matthew Hamm, a student in in the ecotourism pathway, said, “I really enjoyed working with Redwood Rides and seeing the inner workings of a small business that deals with the adventure tourism industry. We got to shadow their employees, go on the river, interact with guests and do physical labor such as preparing rafts, equipment and bikes.”

The Del Norte Workforce Center participated in the Summer By Design project with its E3 Program, which stands for education, experience and employment. The four or six-week program matched 30 junior and senior students with local businesses for hands-on job experience. Each youth attended a weeklong boot camp where they learned about work readiness, interview tips, customer service, cash handling, creating resumes and communication skills.

“It was a great experience,” said E3 student Emily Ricks, who was placed at Marlo’s Restaurant, where she bussed tables. “I got to meet and socialize with a lot of people. Learned how to talk with them and help them. I also made a lot of new friends.”

E3 student Spencer Byrne was placed at Mor-Jon Inc., an auto repair shop in Crescent City. “It’s been a really fun time. Each day I opened up the shop with the employees, spent five hours stocking parts, checking inventory and helping customers find what they need. On my last day, I went to my supervisor and he said he would talk to my E3 directors about the option of rehiring me for a couple of more weeks, and that felt good. I look forward to every second of it.”

The showcase also included presentations from the Indian Education Center Summer Program, Del Norte County Recreation Department’s K.I.D.S. Camp. BHC and a group of parents, nonprofits and agencies also worked together to create a list of summer opportunities for youth of all ages that was published in a “Summer By Design” guide distributed by The Triplicate and at sites throughout the county. The activities include summer camps, recreational activities, reading, art and theater programs.

“We are growing leaders who are reshaping the places that shape our children, our neighborhood and schools,” said Michelle Carrillo, initiative director of Building Healthy Communities. “Summer by Design is a diverse group of neighbors, agencies and youth who have come together to support our young people’s dreams becoming a reality through a range of opportunities all summer long.”

McGuire ended his speech at the showcase with advice for young people: “You are going to hear ‘no’ a lot in your life. But what we need to continue to do as young people is work hard, work together and not take no for an answer for the issues we believe in and the people we work for. The county that leads this is Del Norte. This is an amazing county.”