[two_fifth margin_top=”20px” class=”acb-img-container float-right-container” ] On May 2, 2012 Ken Ulman, the Executive of Howard County Maryland, and representatives of the partner organizations kicked-off the Restoring the Environment and Developing Youth (READY) program by breaking ground in the first rain garden of the program at Bethany United Methodist Church in Ellicott City, MD. The partner organizations of READY included key people from the Howard County government, the  Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, People Acting Together in Howard (PATH), the University of Maryland Extension, Parks and People Foundation. Congregational leaders from Bethany UMC and St. John Baptist Church, several young adults from the Wilde Lake High School Environmental Club under the guidance of Ms. Varma, and members of the community also attended the launch of the READY program. READY Partners: (L-R) Guy Hager, Parks and People Foundation; Lou Etgen and Al Todd, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay; Cynthia Marshall, PATH; Ken Ulman, County Executive, Howard County; Josh Feldmark and Jim Caldwell, Howard County Office of Environmental Sustainability; Amanda Rockler, University of Maryland Extension.The first phase of the READY program will provide over 30 new green jobs for young adults. These people will work in crews to install some three dozen rain gardens on institutional properties such as schools, congregational grounds, and large non-profit organizations. The objective for the pilot phase of the program, extending from the middle of June through the middle of August 2012, will be to treat 120,000 sq. ft. of impervious surfaces.

PATH, affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation, is a multi-racial, multi-faith, non-partisan citizens’ organization rooted in local congregations and associations of  Howard  County. PATH engages congregation and community leaders around issues that directly impact their lives. PATH leaders worked out the initial concept for READY, then brought Howard County into the dialog. Howard County worked energetically with the partners to structure the program contract and is identifying many locations for rain garden candidates. The  Alliance  for the Chesapeake Bay is administering the contract with Howard County and is project managing the READY program. Also partnering in the READY program are the University of Maryland Extension for training and rain garden design support, as well as the Parks and People Foundation for additional training support, capturing lessons-learned, and providing general project management knowledge.

“This partnership could not be timelier,” said Executive Ulman. “Howard County is about to receive new mandates from the Maryland Department of the Environment that will require considerable effort to reduce our stormwater impacts on area streams and the Bay. Employing and training our youth in this emerging green industry sector and then taking on projects to address the demands of our new stormwater permit is a win both for our young adults and the environment.”

Rev. Simpson of Bethany UMC opened the kickoff with a convocation. Rev. Turner underscored Ulman’s points by saying, “creating good jobs for young adults that protect our environment is the right thing to do at this critical time.” In addition, Dennis Caulker of Bethany UMC, as well as other young adults shared their stories about difficulties they have encountered trying to find work.

“Protecting our environment is a community-wide effort. We are pleased to be working so closely with these non-profit groups to achieve our water quality goals. There is quite a challenge ahead, but working together I am confident we can reach the same level of success in stormwater management that we have experienced with our recycling program,” said Ulman.

Learn more about the READY Program.