By Gabriela Suarez Cruz
I began working for the Watershed Project when I was 19 at the beginning of my first year at Contra Costa College as a Biology major. The Green Collar Corp program worked great with my school schedule and I saw the opportunity to gain experience in the environmental field because I could go on to work alongside environmental professionals, both in the field and in the office.
Many of the tasks and projects I completed helped me learn what it’s like to work with a non-profit organization. I learned about and became more familiar with what watersheds are and how much our communities can negatively impact them, but also protect and appreciate them. I also got to learn about the history behind the Richmond Greenway. Among so many projects and accomplishments, I spent a lot of time doing community outreach and language development by helping translate lesson plans and flyers for all kinds of events. I enjoyed the Hope Garden Project, which is a purposeful project going on in North Richmond that helps homeowners build a beautiful garden on strips along the sidewalk in front or aside their homes. Additionally, I learned a lot about our ecosystems through assisting K-12 grade educational programs and field trips. My favorite event was Coastal Clean-Up as a site captain, making sure everyone was safely participating at Shimada Friendship Park.
Overall the work I did those years was meaningful to me because I gained experience, maturity, and confidence in a supportive staff environment. The Green Collar Corps opportunity was shown to me by my high school teacher Janet Kraus and I would recommend this opportunity to others who are curious to explore the Bay Area watershed and a green career.