YARDS program helping 'at-risk' youth in Pima County - Tucson News Now

YARDS program helping 'at-risk' youth in Pima County

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A special program through Tucson Clean and Beautiful is helping at-risk youth to turn over a new leaf.

Tucson News Now caught up with one of the teens who are putting those new job skills to work.

17-year-old Skye Rauch is not afraid to get his hands dirty.  "I know how to build an irrigation system, a dripping system.  I know how to prune trees."

Skye is responsible for the landscaping around the Pima County Juvenile Court Complex, but he would up here for different reason. 

"It's better than me doing nothing and getting in trouble," stated Skye.  "Keeps you off of the streets."  Skye's probation officer encouraged him to take care of his community service hours by participating in Y.A.R.D.S., which stands for Youth Achieving Resources Development Skills.

"Landscaping awareness, plant awareness, water harvesting.  Applications, how to fill out applications," said Joan Lionetti, from Tucson Clean and Beautiful about the YARDS program.

"You can see the growth in most of the kids," said Martin Gallardo, YARDS Supervisor. "Some of them it's day and night."

Gallardo stated many students are empowered with a sense of ‘know-how', and responsibility. 

"You can see it in them when they do a good job.  That's really neat.  That's one thing I like to see, is when they take pride on a job that they've accomplished."

For some students it's more than just learning how to prune a tree.  Skye is one of four teen who now get paid to maintain the grounds at the Juvenile Court Center.  Not every student turns their new skills into a regular job though.  For some – it's a launching point – know how to manage a schedule and work with others.  Skye actually has bigger plans for his future.

"Trying to go to college for graphic design and physical trainer," the teen stated.  "Hopefully to be a PE teacher or something."

More than 60 kids have graduated from YARDS and this Saturday a few more will successfully complete the program.

For more information on the YARDS program please go online to http://www.tucsoncleanandbeautiful.org/other-programs/yards-youth-landscape-maintenance-training/

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