The Los Angeles Conservation Corps, which employs youths in environmental jobs and helps keep them in school, opened an office in East Los Angeles last week.
So far, 25 youths have been hired for mostly part-time jobs that include planting trees, cleaning parks, painting out graffiti and painting murals, said program manager Bruce Saito. Eventually, the center at 4216 E. Hammel St. will employ 50 youths, he said.
Most of the employees are also enrolled in the Mujeres y Hombres Nobles program of the county Department of Education. That program enrolls students who have dropped out of high school and helps them earn credits to graduate or get their general equivalency diploma.
Conservation Corps employees must either stay in or return to high school, a continuation school or college to keep their jobs, Saito said.
"A lot of folks will say, 'I can't go to school because I've got to find a job,' " Saito said. "We try to provide opportunities for both. It's an opportunity that provides learning while they work."
The students learn about conservation, recycling and maintaining their neighborhoods, and will be taken on weekend trips to learn about nature, said Guillermo Hernandez, an employee in the new office.