SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS FUND, 401 West Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360 805-370-2341

Meet our SAMO Youth 2017!

“SAMO Youth started last month at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, with 22 pre-college students, representing 12 different high schools from the Greater LA area and Oxnard. Get to know more about this year’s cohort and learn about the environmental justice and youth work they already perform at the grassroots level in our communities by reading their bio-sketches.” Antonio Solorio, Park Ranger – SAMO Youth Program Manager

Meet our SAMO Youth:

“Whether it was community engagement through education or attending rallies to advocate for just causes, I undeniably enjoy and am passionate about bettering our planet… I will be attending Dartmouth College in the fall and I plan to major in Environmental Science and minor in sustainability. I’m excited to spend my summer with SAMO Youth, admiring California’s beautiful environment, and continue my journey of restoring and protecting the beautiful force that surrounds us, nature.” Alondra Alonso, Garfield High School Graduate

“I am very involved in both my community and school. At Wilson High School I have created my own club, The Self Love Club, which promotes the importance of loving yourself and promoting self-confidence… I’ve also been a volunteer at the Ascot Hills restoration program since freshman year. I do gardening and removal of invasive plants such as tumbleweed and mustard. I’ve also planted native plants such as trees and needle grass.” Michelle Julia Leon, Woodrow Wilson High School

I have played softball for ten years and have run cross country for three. Throughout these experiences I understood the importance of teamwork, hard work, dedication, and self- motivation… From the SAMO Youth program I hope to gain better public speaking and gain more knowledge on the different ways to take care of the environment.” Lorena Sanchez, Current Student at Rio Mesa High School

I will be attending California State University, East Bay in the fall of 2017. My intended major is Biology… I am looking forward to meeting new people that have careers in the National Parks so I can explore careers that I can explore in the future. I am most excited about going to the Channel Islands this summer and doing beautification work while also admiring great views.” Yesenia Melendez, Channel Islands High School Graduate

“[I will be] attending Ventura College in the fall, with an emphasis in Biology… Other volunteer events I’ve been involved in have been beach clean ups, science carnivals, and festivals. One of the reasons why I joined the SAMO Youth Program was to be outdoors. I hope to gain knowledge on plants and to learn from the experts. I am also excited to learn about the Santa Monica Mountains and its history.” Brian Esquivel, Hueneme High School Graduate

“I’m involved in both the Junior Youth Club (JYC)… where I complete community service hours by participating in several events throughout the year. Some events included the San Pedro Beach cleanup and “Increase the Peace” with the main objective of cleaning the streets of Lincoln Heights… For the SAMO Youth program, I’m looking forward to developing my skills while working outdoors and working alongside groups of people.” Johnny Magana, Current Student at Abraham Lincoln High School

I plan on attending East Los Angeles Community College in the fall, majoring in mechanical engineering. While in high school, I participated in the development of the school’s first Environmental Club and community garden… Now that I am going on to my second year in SAMO Youth, I hope that I can make new friends that share the same passion about the environment as I do, and I hope to learn more about what I can do to help our surrounding wildlife in Los Angeles.” Andrew Hernandez, James. A Garfield Senior High School Graduate

“I’m part of my school’s Junior Youth Club (JYC) which helps middle school and high school students get involved to help our community. I’ve been getting involved by participating in various events, such as The Neighborhood Clean-Up, Beach Clean-Ups, Lincoln Heights Christmas Parade, and other community events. With the SAMO Youth program, I look forward to gaining work skills and experience.  I am also very excited to see wildlife as well observing how nature really works.” Israel Arroyo, Current Student at Abraham Lincoln High School

“In school, I am President of the Environmental Club, and Vice-President of Humanitas Council. Last year in Environmental Club we built a community garden which has transformed from a land with clay soil to an environment full of California native plants, which in turn created a home for various insects… I am looking forward to continuing my ever growing passion and knowledge for the preservation of our earth. I am also looking forward to meeting those with the same mindset, and welcoming those who are willing to learn. Zaylei Serna, Current Student at Garfield High School

I will be studying Environmental Science at University of California, Davis in the fall… I am excited about this job with the SAMO Youth because I want to be working outdoors in nature. I also believe it will give me a glimpse of what it would be like to have a career in Environmental Science, which is something I am pursuing.” Gonzalo Orozco, Channel Islands High School Graduate

At Bryn Mawr I intend to major in Biochemistry and minor in Environmental Science. Aside from participating in the SAMO Youth program, I am involved in school programs such as Key Club, FHS Environmental Club, and Volleyball. I have been involved in my community by attending Waste Free Wednesdays, a small project that allowed students from elementary to high school learn about the waste we produce and how to dispose of it properly. This summer I look forward to meeting new people as well as improving my working skills.” Jocelyn Bravo, Benjamin Franklin High School Graduate

“…I am officially our school’s Environmental Club’s secretary starting this new school year. For two years I joined a two week program studying microbiology at the Grifol’s Summer Science Academy… What I look forward to getting out of this program is more knowledge of this beautiful world we inhabit, and educating others on not only preserving our national parks, but protecting our Mother Earth. Throughout my life I’ve lived in the urban areas of California and I’m very excited to escape the city and enter a home that’s always welcomed me.” Andrea Sanchez, Current Student at James A. Garfield High School

“One of the programs I am involved in is The Rio Neighborhood for Learning (NFL), First Five Program helping with food giveaways by making food bags, helping with data entry and using my bilingual skills to assist parents to fill out paperwork… The SAMO Youth program will help enhance my skills in the field work. Overall, I’m excited to meet and work with new people as well as gain more knowledge about parks and wildlife.” Carmen Lopez-Ramirez, Current Student at Rio Mesa High School

I recently graduated from Channel Islands High School in Oxnard and plan to attend Ventura College for my Associates Degree then transfer to a four year university… From the SAMO Youth program, I look forward to having the opportunity to help the environment and get involved with the community. I’m very passionate about helping the environment and I think working with national parks and recreational areas is something I may want to pursue as a career. I’m also very excited to meet and interact with new people!” Victoria Fisher, Channel Islands High School Graduate

“I have helped my community in several ways such as helping at the local library, assisting around my church and aiding the students during their first communion lectures in their classes. I am excited to learn new things and ideas related to the environment while working in the SAMO Youth program and also excited to bring that knowledge to help my community and myself. I am extremely excited about working near nature and being around a group that shares the same passion for nature as I do.” Adolfo Hernandez, Current Student at Woodrow Wilson High School

“This school year I was involved in mentoring and coaching the functional skills students in our school’s first annual OHS Jacket Love Basketball Game. I have also volunteered with the Boys and Girls Club in the recreation department, working outdoors with the kids. From the SAMO Youth program, I hope to gain work experience for future jobs and I am excited to meet and work with other people, learn more about the environment, and how I can make a difference.” Jasmine Chavez, Current Student at Oxnard High School

“Another club I am a part of is Magnet Government, I found that being part of this club strengthened my confidence and taught me to step out of my box to try new things because you can’t lose anything by trying… By being a part of the SAMO Youth program, I hope to strengthen my leadership and communication skills. I also would also like to have created great friendships and unforgettable memories.” Aime Sanabria, Current Student at Lincoln High School

Troy Camp is an outreach program from USC where students undergo an application process in which students from local elementary schools are selected. I was selected as a camper when I was in 5th grade in 2011. Since then, I’ve been involved with Troy Camp’s middle school, and high school programs. This May I was selected to return to camp as a Junior Counselor. I am excited for the friendships that I could possibly make while working as a SAMO Youth, the one week work trip, and learning more about the environment.” Daniela Suarez, Current Student at Environmental Social Policy Magnet High School

“I have volunteered at the Community Roots Garden, where I learned how to plant and harvest crops such as zucchini, cilantro, strawberries, garlic, and volunteered to help in the community kitchen… What I look forward to from the SAMO Youth program is to learn new things and improve my communication skills. I also want to learn how to be a great leader instead of just being led. I am excited about being outside and seeing different plants and animals. I am also excited about meeting new people and making new friends.” Fidelia Camarillo, Current Student at Pacific High School

“I have been accepted to Humboldt State University where I will be attending this fall. I plan to major in Environmental Studies so I can be a part of the water conservation programs of California… Through the SAMO youth program I hope to gain skills that will help me explore my future career and help me get insight to what my academic coursework will be like in Environmental Studies.” Briana Ruiz, Oxnard High School Graduate

“I will be attending University of California, Santa Cruz for the next 4 years to study Environmental Science and Anthropology. I enjoy hiking, writing, exercising, cheerleading, and volunteering in various youth groups for the improvement and general aid to my community. When I found out that I was hired to be a part of SAMO Youth, I was overjoyed. I am so excited to be able to work in the great outdoors with such dedicated and hardworking individuals this summer. I know it’s going to be great one!” Cameron Hernandez, Hueneme High School Graduate

Meet our SAMO Youth Staff:

Joey has been working for the National Park Service Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation area (SAMO) since 2005. He began his work with SAMO as a biological technician carrying out restoration work throughout the mountains. While working at the park he received his BA in Biology from California State University Channel Islands and his MS in Biology from California State University Northridge. He became the native plant nursery manager in 2015 and the restoration ecologist at the beginning of 2017. This is his fourth year supervising the SAMO Youth Oxnard crew. Joey Algiers

Ammy has been working with the National Park Service since 2010.  Shortly after her high school graduation she started working as a SAMO Youth, representing Channel Islands High School in Oxnard. While attending Ventura College, she began working with the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area as a biological science technician, working weekends and school holidays to pay for college. She recently graduated from California State University, Channel Islands receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science and Resource Management. She is working full time this summer as a SAMO Youth supervisor and very proud to come full circle—leading, mentoring, and serving as a role model to new SAMO Youth. Ammy Bevilacqua

Hector started his career with the National Park Service Santa Monica Mountains National Recreational Area in 2014 as a Park Guide through the Pathways program which is geared towards current or recently graduated college students. As a Park Guide, Hector learned to become an interpreter by leading hikes in local parks in Los Angeles and national park sites within the Santa Monica Mountains NRA. Hector received an A.S. in Horticulture and became a native plant nursery manager for the Los Nogales Nursery based out of Audubon Center Debs Park. He is now enjoying his first year as a SAMO Youth supervisor for the Los Angeles crew. Hector Cervantes

MA Geography, Park Ranger, SAMO Youth Program Manager for the National Park Service at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in Southern California.  Growing up in East Los Angeles with limited access to nature, Antonio’s life was transformed once he had the opportunity to experience the great outdoors as a teenager.  He has worked at Yosemite National Park, Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park, Deschutes National Forest, Oregon, and taught at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Griffith Park Observatory, and California State University Northridge.  He currently manages the SAMO Youth employment program at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, where he advocates for the safe and positive development of diverse youth so they can explore and enjoy the outdoors, become confident individuals, and better environmental stewards for parks and their communities. Antonio Solorio

This project was made possible by a grant from the National Park Foundation through the generous support of GRoW@Annenberg.

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