GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - They are testing water quality and learning future job skills. Some young people who graduated from Climb CDC training program in Gulfport are now involved in a restoration project that's part of the ongoing recovery from the BP oil spill.
"Y'all ready to go to work today?" John Hosey asked a group of young men, about to launch their kayaks.
"Yes sir," came the quick reply.
"Well, I've been hearing great things," said Hosey, who is with The Corps Network.
They are working on area waterways. With kayaks and clipboards, they launched Tuesday morning at Bernard Bayou and would paddle westward to a survey assignment in nearby Brickyard Bayou.
"We're working across the three counties on the coast to monitor and collect baseline data on the streams. So hopefully these readings we collect and the data we collect will be presented as potential projects as we move forward," said Hosey.
The program combines environmental surveying with job training.
"There's a lot of opportunities for monitoring work and other restoration work to be done. And so we are working with Climb CDC, career development center, to start their own conservation corps," said Erica Keller, with the Texas Conservation Corps, which is helping lead the Mississippi youth.
Kejuan Williams is among the former Climb CDC students.
"And after I graduated, they like to keep up with you and let you know about different opportunities. And when they were telling me about this one, it perked my interest and I had to find out what it was about," said Williams.
"I've just enjoyed showing these gentlemen a little bit more in depth view of the environment that they come from. And teaching them to do the restoration process. And how it's all going to work with the recovery from the oil spill," said team leader, Taylor Wolter, from Austin, Texas.
Team members WLOX News talked with are certainly enjoying the program. Not only is the water quality testing something new, for many of them it was their first time in a kayak.
"They keep opening up new opportunities for the youth, trying to keep us all out of trouble," said Kilo Turner.
Keeping them out of trouble, by preparing them for future jobs on oil spill restoration projects.
The Gulf Coast Restoration Initiative is funded in part with BP oil spill recovery money. Other funding comes from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and The Nature Conservancy.