It is our pleasure to announce the latest group of participants to join the San Gabriel Mountains Forever Leadership Academy, the volunteer training program of San Gabriel Mountains Forever. This is a very impressive group with ample involvement in their home communities and Los Angeles' wilderness, as well as an expressed commitment to work with local youth. Along with natives of the San Gabriel Valley, this cohort - a total of 11 - includes participants originally from as far north as Alaska and as far south as Guatemala.
The San Gabriel Mountains Forever Leadership Academy is a six-month volunteer training program that meets bi-weekly and focuses on civic engagement, community organizing, and project management. In its first year, the Leadership Academy graduated 16 participants working to support San Gabriel Mountains Forever (SGMF) in diverse communities across the San Gabriel Valley and the greater Los Angeles region. Each participant is eligible for a mini-grant to support a local community project.
The members of the third San Gabriel Mountains Forever Leadership Academy are:
1. Brignac, Marquis: Brignac graduated with a master's degree in public administration from CSU Northridge, the school he initially arrived to as a star high school football player from the Northeast San Fernando Valley. Brignac is interested in assisting the SGMF coalition with strategic planning and enlisting support from local governments.
2. Chan-Ugalde, Jessica: A high school student from Monterey Park, Chan-Ugalde was an art docent for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and is an intern with the Infrastructure Academy and Transportation Program at Los Angeles Trade-Tech College. Chan-Ugalde would like to organize presentations at local elementary, middle, and high schools in East Los Angeles to involve more students with SGMF.
3. Gonzalez, Melissa: A student at John Muir High School, under the United States Forest Service Southern California Consortium, Gonzalez says her most important accomplishment to date is completing the Forest Service's Youth Conservation Corps.
4. Llanes, Marissa: A participant of the Diverse Outdoor Leadership Institute, which engages people and communities of color through the National Park Service Youth Program, Llanes has worked with Outward Bound Adventures. Currently working on a master's degree in Anthropology at California State University, Los Angeles, Llanes plans to build SGMF support among local community college students.
5. Morales, Roberto: An Outward Bound Adventures instructor and Wilderness Instructor with Los Angeles Wilderness Training, Morales grew up in rural Guatemala before emigrating to Southern California. Morales would like to organize hikes, environmental workshops, and camping trips with local youth to introduce them to San Gabriel wilderness and SGMF.
6. Moreno, Victoria: A Tae Kwon Do instructor, intern with the California Wildlife Coalition, and Anthropology and Creative Writing student, Moreno plans to organize local community organizations to assist in park renovation.
7. Nguyen, Franklin Cong: A graduate of Gabrielino High School in San Gabriel, Nguyen was a member of Gabrielino's speech and debate team and student newspaper. Nguyen proposed targeting high school biology classes for nature hikes and environmental workshops as his community project.
8. Roberts, Jamonn: Assistant director for the Foundation for Life, a local after-school arts and education program, Roberts has experience managing community-based programs that use public spaces for "classrooms." Roberts grew up in Alaska and will assist SGMF to coordinate high school and college volunteers.
9. Swainson, Chris: A student in the U.S. Forest Service Southern California Consortium Generation Green and John Muir High School, Swainson currently serves as Generation Green's public information officer.
10. Trapp, Jason: Trapp teaches Spanish and Yearbook Journalism at Gabrielino High School. Trapp plans to organize a seven-day backpacking trip in for local high school students. A father and active duty military reservist, Trapp applied for the Leadership Academy while serving in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, where he also worked with Qasaba Troop 1 - an Afghani Boy Scout Troop. Trapp hopes to become involved with San Gabriel's Parks and Recreation Commission.
11. Yeager, Kathryn: Captain of the University of La Verne Track and Field team, Yeager is the first from her family to attend college. As a Sigma Kappa Sorority member, Yeager oversees scholarships and alumni relations. Interested in gaining experience with non-profit organizations, Yeager is an intern at the California Wilderness Coalition and attended the 2012 California Wilderness strategy meeting in downtown Los Angeles.
The participants and their work with the Leadership Academy will create new collaborative opportunities between San Gabriel Mountains Forever and the United States Forest Service Southern California Consortium, Outward Bound Adventures, Gabrielino High School, the Foundation for Life, as well as local high school and college students.
The Leadership Academy will gather for the first time for an orientation on January 12, 2013, at Rio Vista Park in El Monte, CA. The first formal class will follow three days later on Jan. 15, 2013. Participants of the third San Gabriel Mountains Forever Leadership Academy will graduate in June 2013.