13 new Junior Rangers from Compton sworn in by conservation authority
SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS—Four teenagers from the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority’s newest urban youth job training program, the MRCA Outdoor Leaders, arrived on horseback on Saturday, Aug. 11, at King Gillette Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains to celebrate the graduation and swearing-in of the 13 2012 MRCA Junior Rangers, Mountain Unit. The Junior Rangers and the Outdoor Leaders who, as part of their paid apprenticeship program assisted with the environmental education and skills program, are all from Compton.
Outdoor Leaders Danielle Beavers, Nathan Bonner, Keith Johnson and Justin Parron were members of the MRCA’s first mounted Junior Ranger Unit. Working with the Compton Junior Posse, the MRCA has furthered its goal to introduce all kids to the local mountains.
“Last year we graduated five kids, this year we have graduated 13,” said Amy Lethbridge, Deputy Executive Officer for Interpretation. “We have big plans for the future.”
The MRCA Junior Ranger Program is a coed program for youth ages 8 to 16 that provides an introduction to the outdoors, focusing on exploration and skill development using MRCA parks as its classroom. Led by park naturalists, the program offers a unique combination of environmental science, outdoor skills, experiential learning and leadership activities. Junior Rangers must perform community service in urban areas and at local parks and beaches. Citizenship skills, including communication, responsibility, trust, critical thinking and teamwork are part of the curriculum.
They were selected by an application process that included a face-to-face interview. Highlights of the 2012 Junior Ranger program included the group’s participation in the Friends of the Los Angeles River’s cleanup at lower Compton Creek, where the MRCA recently purchased land adjacent to the soft-bottom, natural portion of historic Compton Creek.
MRCA Executive Officer Joseph T. Edmiston conducted the swearing-in ceremony. “These outdoor leaders, who just last year graduated as junior rangers, represent the best of what we have done, bringing people from all over Southern California to the mountains,” he said. “Not only do they stand proud on their mounts, but they are mounted ambassadors carrying the mission that they’ve learned as Junior Rangers about the environment, about service and about dedication to the their communities.”
Mayisha Akbar, executive director of Compton Jr. Posse Youth Equestrians, thanked the MRCA for giving kids an opportunity that they never could have had anywhere else. Akbar announced that because of their work with the MRCA, the Outdoor Leaders have been invited to speak this November at the Seventh World Ranger Congress in northern Tanzania.
They will also be going to Yosemite at the end of this month.
Members of the Outdoor Leaders assisted with the MRCA Transit to Trails Program from Compton Creek Natural Park at Washington Elementary School in Compton. Sponsored by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, the program brings Compton kids and their families to the Santa Monica Mountains.
The MRCA is completing construction of the Compton Creek Natural Park at Washington Elementary School. It is scheduled to open later this year. This park will convert unused land behind an elementary school in Compton into a vibrant, multi-benefit public park.
The park will feature recreation amenities, California native habitats, storm water management elements and serve as a portal to the Compton Creek Bike Path. The park is a partnership between MRCA, Compton Unified School District, Los Angeles Conservation Corps and the city of Compton. It is funded by Los Angeles County Proposition A, the office of Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas, and the California River Parkways program.
The MRCA is a local public park agency dedicated to the preservation and management of local open space and parkland, watershed lands, trails and wildlife habitat. The MRCA provides natural resources and scientific expertise, critical regional planning services, park construction services, park operations, fire prevention, ranger services and educational and leadership programs for thousands of youth each year. It is one of the lead agencies providing for the revitalization of the Los Angeles River.
The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy was established by the California State Legislature to strategically buy back, preserve, protect and restore treasured pieces of Southern California to form an interlinking system of urban, rural and river parks, open space, trails and wildlife habitats that are easily accessible to the general public.