After a year’s hiatus, our very special River Corps program got back to work on July 1st thanks to renewed grant funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The River Corps is made up of a crew of four Corpsmembers (Brenda, Estituo, Selvin and Mitchell) who are being trained by Crew Supervisor Laura Marcella in environmental education, habitat restoration, river ecology, and community outreach as they work to improve and enhance the LA River and its surroundings.
“I like helping the environment and wildlife,” shared Corpsmember Brenda who is studying at Cal State LA. “I want to work with animals, maybe volunteer at the zoo one day. I really like being outside with nature,” she said.
True environmental champions, River Corps crews in years past have led kayak tours, removed graffiti and debris from the river, interacted with river-adjacent communities, and participated in environmental education programs and events.
“I really like this crew,” expressed Estituo, who recently returned to the Corps. He continued, “It doesn’t feel like work. We can actually enjoy it. We clean it up and it looks like nature should.”
Selvin, a new Corpsmember whose aunts were part of the Corps once as young adults, added, “This is my first job. I like getting to deal with nature. The place is better looking now that we’re here, and people notice. A couple people have thanked me already. It feels good.”
The River Corps originally began in 2014, and the Corpsmembers who participated have gone on to conservation-related higher education programs and careers at federal and state agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service and California State Parks.
Melinda Alvarado, an alumni Corpsmember reflected, “I enjoyed working as part of the River Corps team. Every day was new and exciting when it came to studying and observing the local hummingbirds, plants, river, and even hawks. It was such a positive experience and opened great opportunities for me. Thanks to the River Corps program I was able to land myself in a career that I love with California State Parks. Today, I get to teach people about birds, plants, and many of the topics I was exposed to back when I was a Corpsmember with the River Corps. Not only did I gain knowledge about nature and habitat restoration, but I also learned to cope with challenges in life, to better understand my inner self, and to feel connected to nature. I am grateful.”
Corpsmember Mitchell, who had just joined the River Corps after spending a few months with a crew cleaning up litter and bulky items from city streets shared, “There was a lot of illegal dumping sites. Some people seem to just be lazy. They should know that the trash they dump goes into sewers and waterways.” He ended, “I like working with the River Corps. I think we’ll make a real difference cleaning up the river and litter by the river bed.”