GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Career training and environmental stewardship. Both are part of a new partnership between Climb CDC of Gulfport, The Nature Conservancy and Texas Conservation Corps.
Students in kayaks spent the morning Friday getting some "on the water" training. The young people from Climb CDC are part of a new project to create a Conservation Corps.
"We hope through projects coming in with the Restore Act, that we will be creating new opportunities for employment for some of our students at Climb CDC," said CEO Lori West.
They're learning how to conduct a stream assessment using Brickyard Bayou in Gulfport as the targeted waterway.
Lezzeunna May-Cousan is one of the students.
"We go out and test the waters for like oxygen and the temperature and stuff like that. And we go out looking for invasive species like exotic plants like elephant ears," he said.
This training on the bayou is helping the Nature Conservancy with a much larger project that involves assessing nine different waterways along the Mississippi Gulf coast; looking at their restoration potential.
"They run a check list on each site, looking at things like erosion and whether the stream is blocked for fish passage and whether it has a lot of invasive species. They also do basic water quality and then they do fish sampling to see what's in there," explained Mike Murphy with the Nature Conservancy.
Members of the Texas Conservation Corps are serving as mentors for the Climb CDC students.
"We're doing a little bit of career development along with teaching them a little bit about nature, they're not too used to that. And getting them ready for potentially starting their own program down here," said David Bock, with the Texas group.
"We have a culinary program, a construction program, a computer technology program and this conservation program is the latest of our work force training tracks," said West.
"It's better than working inside. Outside you get fresh air and you get to see new things and experience new things," said student Brandon McLaurin.
New things that could lead to participating in future "Restore Act" projects or even long term career opportunities.