BY BRITTNEY ORTON – The potential for renewable energy and green jobs in Hawaii is huge.  The possibility of equipping the people most disenfranchised in Hawaii with skills that will help earn them a decent wage is now more promising than ever before.

According to the State of Hawai’i , Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, Research & Statistics Office, ‘Hawaii’s Green Workforce Report, 2010, businesses are expecting green jobs to increase by 26 percent over the next two years.

Kupu, a Hawaii-based non-profit organization that runs the Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps (HYCC) programs, is addressing this demand by providing the training necessary for youth to compete in the expanding green job market.

Through the Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps programs, participants are provided with the unique opportunity to visit and help restore some of Hawaii’s most beautiful places, while also gaining hands-on experience in natural resource management.  These programs are aimed at exposing youth to the many threats facing Hawaii’s fragile ecosystems, and teaching them how they can have a huge impact on restoration efforts.

Young people are engaged in the protection of Hawaii’s unique natural and cultural resources under the guidance of natural resource managers.   HYCC participants are given the training and skills necessary to succeed in the conservation field, by working alongside some of the top professionals in the field.   Kupu hopes that through the HYCC programs, participants will earn a greater appreciation for Hawaii’s unique environment, and a desire to pursue a career in natural resource management.

“The Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps instills an environmental mindset in Hawaii’s youth.  The program allows members to give back to their island home and at the same time earn a monetary stipend.  Members leave the program with in depth knowledge of

Hawaii’s unique environment, and the hard work it takes to protect what we have,” said Matthew Bauer, Director of Operations.

Currently Kupu is accepting applications from youth and young adults for the Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps’ summer programs and encourages motivated individuals with strong leadership skills to apply for team leader positions.  Member positions are for those generally 15-20 years of age, and team leader positions are open to those 21 years in age and older.  The application deadline for 2011 summer program is February 28th.

HYCC members earn a $1,000 stipend for their six week participation plus the opportunity to receive college credit through the University of Hawaii; team leaders earn $3,000 in stipends as well as an educational award of $1,000. To find out more about the Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps Programs, visit: www.kupuhawaii.org, or call their office at: 808-735-1221.

Brittney Orton is the Asst. Program Coordinator for Kupu

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