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

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A special program through Tucson Clean and Beautiful ishelping at-risk youth to turn over a new leaf.

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

17-year-old Skye Rauch is not afraid to get his handsdirty.  "I know how to build an irrigationsystem, a dripping system.  I know how toprune trees."

Skye is responsible for the landscaping around the PimaCounty 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 thestreets."  Skye's probation officerencouraged him to take care of his community service hours by participating inY.A.R.D.S., which stands for Youth Achieving Resources Development Skills.

"Landscaping awareness, plant awareness, waterharvesting.  Applications, how to fillout applications," said Joan Lionetti, from Tucson Clean and Beautiful aboutthe YARDS program.

"You can see the growth in most of the kids," said MartinGallardo, 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 theytake pride on a job that they've accomplished."

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

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

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

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