play / 2016

Conservation Pathways: Environmental Education and Careers for Tomorrow's Leaders

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Helpline Youth Counseling (HYC)

HYC's Conservation Pathways Project in Southeast LA County boosts residents’ understanding of environmental sustainability and awareness of prospective careers in the growing eco-friendly industry.


Are any other organizations collaborating on this proposal?

County of Los Angeles, The Orchard Dale Water District, Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD), , This project will educate students in the following school districts:, - ABC Unified, - Bellflower Adult Education, - Downey Unified, - East Whittier, - East Whittier City, - Little Lake, - Long Beach Unified, - LA County Office of Education, - Lynwood Unified, - Norwalk-La Mirada Unified, - Paramount Unified, - South Whittier, - Whittier City, - Whittier Union High

Please describe your project proposal.

HYC’s Conservation Pathways Project will advance the Southeast Los Angeles community’s understanding of water and energy conservation by providing education regarding drought-tolerant plants, agricultural practices, irrigation basics and garden design; present practical information to the public on ways to lessen resource consumption; and connect residents to career prospects in the expanding environmental industry.

Which of the play metrics will your proposal impact?​

  • Access to open space and park facilities
  • Number (and quality) of informal spaces for play
  • Number of children enrolled in afterschool programs
  • Number of parks with intergenerational play opportunities
  • Number of residents with easy access to a “vibrant” park

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Gateway Cities

Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to play?

HYC will help make LA the best place to PLAY by uniting government, community, and individual efforts to create quality spaces for individuals of all ages to play, including a campus and park with eco-friendly technologies. HYC serves as the nonprofit organization managing and operating Liberty Community Plaza (LCP), a $20 million community center constructed by the County of Los Angeles, 4th District, and serving Unincorporated South Whittier and surrounding cities in Southeast Los Angeles County.

Our park serves as an oasis in the neighborhood and the epicenter for local residents to play and learn. LCP features a quarter track with exercise equipment along the perimeter and a playground with slides, swings, a jungle gym, and a landscape with 100% drought-resistant California native plants and grass that thrive with little water. LCP’s park serves two key purposes: 1) to provide a safe, inviting, and fun place to play and where people of all ages can gather; and 2) to provide an interactive, engaging, and informative environment to learn about water and energy conservation efforts.

Our program, the Conservation Pathways Project, will equip low-income children, youth, adults, and seniors with education and improved understanding of water conservation, drought-tolerant plants, agricultural practices, irrigation basics, and garden design. Program participants will have the opportunity to learn about careers in the growing environmental industry. Conservation workshops will be tailored to each age group as appropriate.

A Conservation Pathways Coordinator will teach workshops with the guidance of our partners Orchard Dale Water District and Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD), which provide program input on a volunteer basis. Since July 2015, HYC has conducted 30 on-site conservation workshops. With LA2050 funding, HYC will expand our project and resources to serve more residents. We aim to increase the number of people reached to 25,000 children, youth, adults and seniors from throughout Southeast Los Angeles County, including students from school districts with which HYC partners.

A touch-screen educational Kiosk will deepen the learning experience more than existing signage, allowing interactivity regarding local natural habitats, water and energy conservation strategies, and sustainable landscaping methods. Kiosk content will be especially geared toward children and youth. To facilitate the greatest reach for the project, HYC will develop a Southern California Conservation mobile app that youth and families can install on their telephones to deepen their environmental and conservation learning. A 10-passenger van will provide increased access to Conservation Pathways.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

HYC will measure our success based on:

  • Number of classes conducted
  • Number of individuals in attendance
  • Program participants’ familiarity with California ecosystems
  • Program participants’ familiarity with conservation strategies
  • Number of linkages to eco-friendly companies
  • Percent of program participants with increased knowledge of and interest in eco-friendly jobs

HYC will evaluate the above indicators through pre- and post- surveys completed immediately before and after participation in on-site conservation classes and events. Using the surveys, we will measure improvement in conservation knowledge resulting from a class or workshop and steps participants plan to take to conserve in their own lives. We will collect e-mail addresses and survey randomly selected participants 90 days, 6 months, and 1 year after participation regarding their home water and energy usage to track learning. Program participants from throughout the year will be invited to take part in a Conservation Pathways Learning Event at LCP where they will share conservation progress they have made in their daily lives.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money
  • Volunteers
  • Advisors/board members
  • Staff
  • Publicity/awareness
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles etc.)
  • Technical infrastructure (computers etc.)
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support