Hike is first step for native youth center
by Sharlene Irete
Project Venture and the other programs at the new Native Youth Resource Center evolved from an ancestral trail hike Washoe tribal youth made in 2006. The two-day hike began at King’s Canyon in Carson City, over the mountain to a camp-out at Spooner Lake, to the destination at Skunk Harbor celebrated with a picnic with family and friends.
The resource center provides services to 83 Native American youth from Douglas, Carson and Alpine counties, with a focus on education and drug prevention.
The creation of the Native Youth Resource Center was made possible through the efforts of the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California, the Native Temporary Aid to Needy Families program and from state and federal grants.
“Project Venture started everything with us and we have a 97 percent retention rate. Most of the youth have stayed with us for all three years,” said Liz Garcia, program coordinator of the new resource center that opened in February in Gardnerville.
The students enrolled in Project Venture meet once a week to learn the techniques and earn the trust needed to participate in rock climbing and other outdoor activities. The students must complete community service projects to be eligible to go on any back country adventures.
Students’ community projects include set-up and clean-up of community dinners and picnics, painting the Washoe Tribe Senior Center, providing security at pow wows and round dances, and hosting a family appreciation dinner for their elders. The community projects help the students respect senior tribal members, the environment and their cultural heritage.
The Native Youth Resource Center offers the Odyssey Credit Restitution program which helps Native American high school students earn credits toward graduation.
Students in Odyssey collectively completed 860 hours of work in summer school last July.
“There were 11 youth who wouldn’t have graduated without the program,” said Garcia.
Two programs created to benefit students and their families are Native Youth Resource and Referral and Circles of Support.
The Circle of Support educational support program uses Native American liaisons and advisors to assess students and their needs. A monthly meeting with parents gives them information about school policy, testing and how to check on their children’s attendance.
“Circles of Support is for parents to know what’s going on at school,” said Garcia. “Before Circles, we used to have a very high truancy rate. It used to be 7.5 percent of native students. Now it’s down to .3 percent.”
The staff of the Native Youth Resource Center work with Partnership of Community Resources in Gardnerville, Partnership Carson City and with Douglas and Carson City school districts.
“Federal funding is getting so low so we need to work together and help each other,” said Garcia.
“You hear people say, ‘If I make a difference in one person’s life, it would be awesome.’ But I feel that one is not enough. We need to work together for the wellness of community youth.”
Native Youth Resource Center
1248 Waterloo Lane, Gardnerville.
On Project Venture
Carson High School student and JROTC cadet Shanice Turtle, 15, gets a ride from the Carson gym to attend the weekly meetings at the Native Youth Resource Center in Gardnerville. She said her first experience with hiking was through Project Venture.
“Project Venture as a drug and alcohol prevention program but it’s something fun and helps keep you out of trouble,” said Turtle. “The best part is socializing with friends from the community and learning traditional things from the elders. We went to the pine nut dance and stayed almost all night.”