By: Michael Zhao (Youth Commission Chair) and Ishita Verma (Youth Commission Vice Chair)
We had the honor of serving as the Chair and Vice Chair for the 2020 -2021 Youth Commission. As we wrap up our term, we would like to take a moment to reflect and highlight the Youth Commission’s incredible work this year.
The Youth Commission’s incredible work this year, including hosting our annual Job Shadow Day, creating seven public art benches for the pilot Adopt-A-Bench Program, supporting our Creek Stewardship initiative and developing our Youth Citizen Science Network. This work has inspired us, and we hope it inspires you too.
The Adopt-A Bench group partnered with local artist Paul J. Gonzalez to revitalize seven community benches throughout Santa Clara County and turn them into works of art. We are proud to say that all seven benches were successfully installed. The process was topped off with a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony for the community to celebrate the new benches. With this project completed, the group is now creating a community mural project recently approved by Valley Water’s Board of Directors.
You can learn more about this project here: https://www.valleywater.org/learning-center/adopt-bench
The Creek Stewardship group’s goal are to foster action to keep our creeks clean, promote water conservation efforts, and continue youth-led efforts to coordinate creek-clean ups. They found innovative ways to engage the community within the constraints of social distancing during the pandemic. The Youth Commission hosted several socially distanced creek cleanups and collected large amounts of trash. They were also involved in increasing the outreach and awareness for cleanups. In addition, the group helped make the Adopt-A-Creek maps easier to read to identify the creeks’ locations and recruit more members.
Job Shadow and Mentoring
Valley Water’s Job Shadow Day in 2021 faced a lot of uncertainty because of the pandemic. However, the Job Shadow and Mentoring group persevered with innovative thinking and transitioned the event to Zoom. More than 64 students and 56 mentors attended the event in February. Students learned about various topics from the distinguished speakers, a Q&A panel, a virtual tour of the Valley Water facilities, and a career mentoring session.
Youth Citizen Science Network
This year, the Youth Commission contacted many different science organizations to identify opportunities to collaborate and support water-related projects. As a result, the Youth Commission recommended that Valley Water be an annual sponsor for the Synopsys Championship Science Fair’s Special Awards, starting in 2022.
The Outreach Media working group was created to identify ways to connect and engage with other students across the county and share information on upcoming Valley Water events. This year, we launched the Youth Commission website to help share our work and encourage future youth commissioners to engage with our efforts. The website features information on what the Youth Commission does, blog posts from commissioners and photos of our projects and people. This group will continue working towards increasing the commission’s online presence through social media posts and website updates to increase our communication with the community.
You can check out the Youth Commission website here: https://www.valleywater.org/learning-center/valley-water-youth-commission
This year was different and unexpected. Commissioners would normally meet in person at Valley Water headquarters and bond over snacks, stories and fun. But despite the challenges, the commissioners continued to work hard and have fun. We’re proud of what we accomplished. As this year’s Chair and Vice Chair, we are excited to see the growth of the Youth Commission.