After six months of planting trees, maintaining green infrastructure, collecting litter and gaining job skills along the way, the first members of PeoriaCorps reached a big milestone on April 20 — graduation.

A pre-apprentice program for young adults ages 18-24, PeoriaCorps provides students with entry-level credentials in green infrastructure. In addition to hands-on experience in the field, participants complete an intense environmental literacy curriculum focused on developing green solutions for stormwater and flooding. At the end of the program, they earn an industry-recognized credential from the National Green Infrastructure Certification Program.

“We’ve seen a major skills gain,” says Jamilia Wilson, program director for PeoriaCorps. “We use a skills test that we administer before and after the program. On average, our current members have improved a whole three academic grades.”

One graduate has already been hired by a landscaper who contracts with the City of Peoria for green infrastructure, and the goal is to connect other PeoriaCorps members with the local trades and laborers union. Establishing a skilled workforce is essential as the City looks to use local businesses to build and maintain green infrastructure.

Over the course of the six-month program, PeoriaCorps graduates completed weekly litter pick-up in and around Peoria’s urban core. They also planted, staked and pruned trees on road medians and sidewalks, as well as assisting with maintenance of the City’s existing green infrastructure.

Want to learn more about PeoriaCorps or get involved? Call 309-494-8844 or visit the office at 813 SW Washington St.