Saco, Maine Youth-in-the Environment Project,sponsored by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 1 – Youth-in-the-Environment Project

PETE was awarded a grant in late 2001 from U.S. EPA Region 1 to develop and operate a “Youth-in-the-Environment Initiative” education and training program (similar to the NYC project) in Southern Maine. In the summer of 2003 we established a cooperative agreement with the City of Saco, Maine’s Public Works Department to host a program. During the summer of 2003 they hosted 3 Youth Interns (ages 16-18) for 9 weeks that were assigned to their Solid Waste Facility, Recycling Facility and their Water Pollution Control Facility. Each youth was also rotated through Saco’s various divisions that have environmental programs in order to expose the youth to the city’s entire program. They were taken on several field trips to various other environmental sites around Saco to give the youth a greater appreciation of the environmental protection field. The City of Saco was so pleased with the program that they expressed interest in offering it again. In 2004 PETE was awarded an amendment to it’s EPA award to allow a similar program during the summer of 2004. Once again we had 3 youth who participated, two that were directly supported by the EPA award and 1 that was supported by the Southern Maine Career Center ‘s-Summer Youth Employment Program (U.S. Department of Labor). Once again a great success, with one returning youth who requested to participate again this summer and is now rethinking the potential of future education related to the environmental and public service area.

Consider Establishing a Youth-in-the-Environment Program in Your Area! For those who may be interested in establishing a Youth-in-the-Environment Program in their community or agency PETE produced an EPA Guide to Establishing a “Youth-in-the-Environment” program entitled: Turn on Youth to Careers in Environmental Protection – Your Roadmap for Launching a Successful Youth and the Environment Program.

Although this program has been highly successful, many organizations and state agencies have hesitated to engage this program due to the appearance of overwhelming effort to launch such a program. The newly published PETE guide on how to establish a program addresses the issues in an easy to follow step-by-step guide for use by anyone interested in launching a program. The single most important element like many other great programs is securing both a champion-funding source and a champion at the host sites that has an interest in educating our youth about the environmental career field. The guide is available through the PETE website for easy downloading, or a hard copy is available by contacting the PETE Office.