The Washington Department of Ecology is looking for teens 14 to 17 years old in Central Washington to get paid for picking up litter this summer as part of their Ecology Youth Corps — a program they’ve had in place since 1975.
Rod Hankinson, who's been coordinating the program since 1989, said it's a great way for kids to get work experience, learn the value of and make a little money.
"It's one of the longest ongoing youth employment programs of its kind in the nation," Hankinson said. "We're going to work and the kids are going to learn a good work ethic and they're going to earn a good wage too."
Teens get paid $15.74 per hour to pick up litter in their community, 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, up to 32 hours per week for one three-and-a-half week session — either July 5 to July 27 or July 31 to Aug. 17.
Last summer, the teams picked up 7,000 bags of trash, with each bag weighing about 15 pounds. They work in small teams, cleaning up litter in Ellensburg, Richland, Sunnyside, Toppenish, Goldendale and Yakima.
Hankinson said this year, he's particularly looking for more applicants in Toppenish, Sunnyside and Goldendale.
"Those are the three real areas that I'm concerned about getting enough applicants to run the program," Hankinson said.
Hankinson said they receive between 400 and 500 applications every year. He said he reads every application before making a decision, but the selection process is competitive.
"I will probably interview about 200 of those kids to hire 72 of them," Hankinson said.
Hankinson said kids don't need to have any experience to apply, but good references from teachers and an application that shows they really want the job will go a long way toward getting them an interview.
“They’re 14; I don't expect them to have an extensive work history at all," Hankinson said. "I just want to see if they put in the effort to put in an application and to fill it out completely and to fill it out legibly so that I can read it — if it's a hardcopy application — and to get it in on time.”
However, Hankinson said even the teens who don't get the job can use the knowledge they gained to apply to the job again the following year.
"Each step of the process is a learning process for kids," Hankinson said.
Applicants must be ages 14 to 17 as of July 5, 2023. Applications are available online here and are due by April 3.
Emily Goodell joined the KAPP/KVEW team in February 2019.
Emily was born in raised in Yakima, where she currently works as our Yakima Bureau Chief. She’s worked in nearly every journalism medium, but above all else, her passion is investigative reporting. At the Yakima Herald-Republic, Emily worked as a breaking news, city government and crime and courts reporter. She’s served as a city government and education reporter at the Ellensburg Daily Record, a freelance journalist for Yakima Valley Publishing and as Northwest Public Broadcasting’s Yakima Correspondent.
Emily completed a news reporting internship with Spokane Public Radio and an arts and culture reporting internship with The Inlander, an alternative urban weekly in Spokane, Wash.
She also covered censorship and freedom of the press issues facing student media across the nation at the Student Press Law Center in Washington, D.C. Emily graduated from Whitworth University in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism & Mass Communication.
In college, Emily worked with her colleagues and researchers at Florida International University on a collaborative project looking at the experiences of women working as professionals in the communication field. Throughout her high school and college career, Emily competed in speech and debate tournaments at the regional, state and national level.
Emily is an avid traveler. Within the U.S., she’s visited 16 states and the District of Columbia. Outside the country, she’s also been to Canada, the United Kingdom and South Africa. While in Durban, South Africa, Emily was more than 10,000 miles away from her hometown — about as far as you can get.