Ten years of community service is a sentence local youth can be proud of. Today marks the completion of the 10th year of our Conservation Youth Corps program (CYC).
In 2006, at the urging of our former CAO, Rae Horst, we started the conversation with our partners about the need for youth programming. We were committed to connecting youth with the environment. Our goal was to offer an environmental learning experience for 200 students during the summer and plant 10,000 trees.
The CYC program began in the summer of 2007 with the support of the Region of Peel. The program started with partners throughout the Credit River watershed to provide community service, engage high school students looking for volunteer hours and address climate change.
Youth volunteers spend one week in the summer working in a crew of seven. They participate in conservation activities such as tree plantings, trail maintenance, invasive species removal, stream restoration and electrofishing. The program offers students an opportunity to earn volunteer hours, develop new and different life skills and network with other students.
The success of CYC led to two more CVC youth programs. Branch Out is a program that enhances science and geography curriculum and offers students the chance to participate in hands-on local environmental restoration. The Frontline program offers an opportunity for youth to develop leadership skills as environmental champions.
Nearly 2,200 students have joined the CYC week-long summer program, with another 10,000 volunteers participating in Branch Out. These students have contributed 84,000 hours of work through 1,800 workdays over the past decade. This is equal to five full-time staff each year the program has operated.
Through partnerships with landowners and supporters, these students planted more than 54,000 trees over the 10 years to help fight climate change. Students have also removed more than 1,000 bags of invasive species, like garlic mustard, honeysuckle and buckthorn. All this work has taken place on 149 different properties.
CYC would not be possible without the continued support and hard work from the CVC Foundation. Each year, the CVC Foundation commits to raise $125,000 in support of CYC. Since 2006, they have contributed $1.1 million. They’ve hosted 11 Conservation Galas and eight Canoe the Credit events in support of the CYC program.
The CYC program has been successful over the years due to the generous support of donors and sponsors which include: the Region of Peel, Enersource, Shell Fuelling Change, TD FEF, Enbridge, CRH, Canon-Evergreen Take Root, George Weston Limited, RBC Foundation, Brampton and Caledon Community Foundation, ECHO Foundation, PPG Canada Inc., Pratt & Whitney Canada, Suncor Energy and Telus Corporation.