Matt Cash (left) and Taylor Pesce work to install a rain barrel at Experience Momentum in Lynnwood on Oct. 11. Cash and Pesce work along with other veterans in a group that completes projects around the county for the Snohomish Conservation District. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Matt Cash (left) and Taylor Pesce work to install a rain barrel at Experience Momentum in Lynnwood on Oct. 11. Cash and Pesce work along with other veterans in a group that completes projects around the county for the Snohomish Conservation District. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Team of veterans work on eco-friendly projects across county

The Washington Conservation Corps partners with the publicly funded Snohomish Conservation District.

EVERETT — Chris Rodriguez was used to working on a team, in all kinds of weather.

Rodriguez, 38, of Everett, served six years with the U.S. Marine Corps. His time in the military left him with health challenges that limited his career options.

Then he joined a crew on the Washington Conservation Corps, which partners with the publicly funded Snohomish Conservation District. Derek Hann, a design engineer with the district, noticed that Rodriguez and another veteran excelled at the work.

The focus is on eco-friendly projects that retain and filter stormwater, such as rain gardens and rain barrels. In some cases, local governments or private property owners pay for the materials, and the crews provide labor.

“It’s a lot of digging,” Hann said. “It’s a lot of earth work. It’s a lot of pipe work.”

It took Hann a couple of years to turn his idea into action. He helped the district launch a Veteran Conservation Corps crew through the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.

The crew members are interns with monthly stipends starting at $1,600. The funding comes from district revenues, including those related to stormwater projects, grants, and significant support from The Boeing Co.

The work experience is beneficial, but the veterans also get to see the real-time results of their labor, said Rodriguez, a crew supervisor. He cited as examples saplings growing and salmon spawning.

The program alleviates the sense that some veterans have of being left behind in civilian life, he said.

“It’s the best therapy you can get …,” he said. “Everything we’re learning here is something we can take and build upon. I’ve learned all the math I can use in the world now unless I become an engineer.”

The world is moving toward a greener future, Rodriguez said. He thinks about gardens and stormwater, and the way that lives also get reorganized and change from season to season. Homeowners who’ve hired the vet crew later send him pictures to keep in touch, along with invitations to barbecues.

Assistant crew lead Taylor Pesce, 33, of Lake Stevens, also served in the Marines. On Oct. 11, the team helped install rain barrels at Experience Momentum, a physical therapy business in Lynnwood.

“It’s the kind of work I like to do, outside, work that has a purpose, something that has a function to it,” Pesce said.

Since leaving the military, Pesce earned an associate’s degree in environmental science at Everett Community College. He has been considering a career in education. The district invited him to participate in outreach efforts in classrooms, as part of his internship.

“It just worked out perfectly,” he said.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @rikkiking.

Internship

Are you a veteran interested in conservation? For internship information, contact Kim Pham at kim@dva.wa.gov.

More info

Rain gardens, along with rain barrels, can filter pollutants, reduce flooding and improve landscapes. They also can be good for wildlife and property values, according to the Snohomish Conversation District. Help is available to make it happen. For more information, call 425-335-5634.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Mike Evans, Blue Heron Canoe Family patriarch, asks permission to navigate the Coast Salish waters as paddlers prepare to depart on their two week journey to Lummi Island. (Isabella Breda / The Herald)
Pandemic disrupted tradition, but not their love of the sea

The Blue Heron Canoe family has embarked on a two-week journey, launching from the Edmonds waterfront.

Laura Smith, with husband Tom, makes Danielle Lam laugh after being presented with a check for $10,000 from The Prize Patrol from Publishers Clearing House on Wednesday, July 28, 2021 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
‘Holy roses!’ A day in the life of the legendary Prize Patrol

Publishers Clearing House surprised a Mukilteo couple with a sweepstakes prize, flowers and balloons.

Michael Fong
Somers taps Seattle deputy mayor to lead COVID recovery

Mike Fong will oversee how Snohomish County uses its $160 million in federal relief dollars.

Man, 20, hit and killed in Lynnwood, another badly injured

They were part of a group riding bicycles, scooters and skateboards. They were hit by a pickup truck.

Former EvCC standout athlete killed in Spokane shooting

Jakobe Ford, 22, was named to the Northwest Athletic Conferences All-Decade teams for 2010-19.

Lane closure set for section of Highway 527 near Canyon Park

The Washington State Department of Transportation is cleaning stormwater retention vaults.

Daniel Scott (center, in green jacket) and Eddie Block (bottom right) are shown in a video before the Proud Boys and other rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6 in Washington, D.C.
Arlington Proud Boy ‘Milkshake’ indicted in Capitol siege

Daniel Lyons Scott faces 10 federal charges, including assaulting federal officers.

Election
Familiar faces making their mark in City Council contests

In Lynnwood, a 21-year-old is winning, while in Edmonds only 81 votes separate three hopefuls.

Election
Incumbent Everett, Snohomish mayors seem headed for November

After early counting, Cassie Franklin and John Kartak appeared to be headed for the general election.

Most Read