Aquarium Gets Help From Multnomah Youth Cooperative

February 23, 2006

Multnomah Youth Cooperative puts in a day's work on Aquarium grounds

The Oregon Coast Aquarium received help from a hardworking group of young people Wednesday. Bob Lewellyn, Head Groundskeeper at the Aquarium was impressed with the work ethic of students from the Multnomah Youth Cooperative (MYC) as they spent a day removing invasive species from the Aquarium grounds. “They’re such a great group of kids,” said Lewellyn. “They really worked hard out there today.”

The Multnomah Youth Cooperative is an educational youth conservation organization located in Fairview, Oregon. Program Coordinator Kelly McGrath said that 25 out of 187 students are homeless and many would not otherwise graduate from high school. “We provide at-risk youth with the place and space to be themselves,” according to McGrath. “Many of these kids have never had anyone listen to them.” She says empowerment and accountability is emphasized in a highly supportive and individualized setting. The MYC accomplishes this by offering small classes and accommodating different learning styles. “We are believers in active learning – teaching the kids about real-life work and helping them develop social skills,” said McGrath. Their Motto, student Kandie Madden states emphatically, is; “We work hard, play hard and study hard!”

One of the ways MYC empowers youth is by giving them a voice and letting them make decisions. Kandie Madden is an example. “Last year I was failing all of my classes, but this year I’m getting all A’s,” said Madden. McGrath says Madden will graduate on time, or possibly a little early. It was Madden’s idea to bring their work group to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. “It sounded like a good idea, but we weren’t sure if it would work,” said McGrath. “But she came through – she made the arrangements. We were very impressed with her resourcefulness!”

MYC is funded in part by the Reynolds School District, grants from the Oregon Youth Conservation Corps and other contractual partners. It helps at-risk youth achieve academic success and involves them in service-learning and hands-on projects, which teaches students to appreciate local ecology and land management issues. Kandie Madden and her classmates removed Scotch broom, blackberries and ivy from Aquarium grounds, and McGrath said this experience has been fantastic. They slept in the Passages of the Deep shark tunnel and enjoyed the Aquarium while they were here. “We hope to do this again,” said McGrath, “the Aquarium has just been phenomenal!”