Summer Experience in Green Jobs for Youth

This program employed ten youth, ages 17 -21, for two months during the summer. They were paid hourly and worked a four day week at Aprovecho and focused on four seperate projects:

  1. Water Conservation, Storage, and Abatement
  2. Lumber Processing, Basic Carpentry and Natural Building
  3. Small Scale Aquaculture Systems
  4. Solar Hot Water system design and installation

They gained valuable skills and experience in a variety of disciplines both inside and outside of the “traditional” trade occupations. This program was nationally recognized by the US Department of Labor as an exemplary program and was made possible by a partnership between Aprovecho, South Lane School District, Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, and the Lane Workforce Partnership.

Program Objectives:

  • Empower students with the skills necessary to evaluate, plan, and install water systems such as: ponds, swales, and rainwater catchment tanks for residential and commercial buildings
  • Prepare students to transition into further education and training in city planning, civil engineering, resource management, and international aid / development.
  • Build on students experience and confidence in the construction trades. Students will learn the basics of carpentry, tool use and safety, as well as gaining experience and insight into the emerging field of sustainable construction.
  • Allow students to design and build a community-scale, fully integrated aquaponics system where they will learn concepts related to fisheries management, nutrient cycling, organic greenhouse production of vegetables, local food security, marketing, and nutrition. Students will also build skills in: construction, plumbing, irrigation systems, and greenhouse installation.
  • Students will understand thermodynamics as applied to residential and commercial hot water systems. Students will gain experience in: plumbing, soldering, roofing, basic carpentry, and tool safety. Student will be able to take these skills directly into employment or further education in green energy systems.

Project Details:

Rainwater Harvesting and Storage System: The students completed the construction of a 10,000 ferro-cement water cistern. They were involved in the initial site leveling, and foundation work before beginning on the tasks of cutting, bending, and tying metal re-bar. There now is approximately 1 mile of rebar, and over 50,000 wire ties in the tank structure. The cement plaster went on smoothly, and the tank is now full with rainwater collected from the roof of Aprovecho’s community meeting hall.

Aquaculture System: The students surveyed, graded, and installed a 20’x30′ greenhouse, two 610 gallon fish tanks, and a 1,200 gallon wetland water treatment trough. They were involved in running electricity and water to the site, as well as installing ventilation systems and water quality monitoring systems.
Click here to read more about the Aquaculture system in operation

Solar Hot Water System: The students assisted in installing a commercial solar hot water system as well as a simple DIY solar hot water system. They were taught skills in plumbing, soldering, and copper sweating.

Eco-Construction: The students took part in the processing of raw lumber into finished T&G paneling, installed an earthen plaster wall, and took part in other various carpentry activities.

Quotes from the students blog

“We started on the solar powered water heaters. We dug out a base (digging is a common theme here so far) for the shower and set posts in to create privacy. I was excited to learn the parts of solar power and how everything worked together. I learned about thermodynamics and the pressured flow of water to create movement. I’m excited to make the screening for the shower out of bamboo. I like the idea of implementing my artistic view on such a beautiful place. During down time we made numerous sounds with the bamboo and came up with genius wind chime plans.

Also, last thoughts – the food is very interesting and tasteful. I’m glad to know I’m at least eating healthy during a long day of work.”


“The day began with the clearing and leveling out of the building site. Throughout the day the location completely transformed, leaving no remnants of the previous site.

I learned about what it takes to create a ferro-cement tank today, and now I’m thinking I would like to build one at home when this project is over.”


“I like working on any projects out here at Apro. It gives me good working skills and crew skills. I’ve had some work with these things before but this is alot more hands on type of stuff.”


This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.